Lois Leveen


August 26, 2015

Celebrity Chocolate Cake Smackdown!!!

Yesterday I was part of the Celebrity Chocolate Cake Smackdown sponsored by the Oregon Historical Society. Because in Oregon, authors are celebrities and chocolate is history-making.

How did I do?

Well, you know the old expression . . . It's not whether you win or lose, it's whether you get to lick the bowl.

My cake was not selected as one of the top 3 by the judge. BUT WHO CARES????? I ate a ton of cake, had a ton of fun, celebrated a great state and great history museum, and learned the following things:

1. Many accomplished, important people who have achieved a great deal can still be reduced to panic regarding having to make, transport, and sit through the judging of a cake. I am proud to include myself in this illustrious company, which includes former State Senator Margaret Carter, current Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum, the heads of Oregon Public Broadcasting, Portland Art Museum, Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, and various other wonderful people who make this community great.

2. (With all due respect to Nancy Hales, First Lady of Portland and First Place Winner): I baked what has been for 23 years my favorite cake, and lost. But after managing to sample small portions of 7 other entries, I realized my favorite cake is still the one I made. Thus I learned I’d rather attain my own measure of delight than win someone else’s accolade. There is no better way to feel about the things you do. (Added bonus: While the winning cake was gobbled up on the spot, I had plenty of mine leftover to take home. I will continue to enjoy it with friends all week).

3. For the first time ever, I encountered somebody who guessed the secret ingredient in my cake. Sauerkraut. No, that is not an autocorrect error or a typo. SAUERKRAUT baby, still the best chocolate cake ever, and let me know anytime any of you would like to sample some. The fridge is loaded!

OHS flyer
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August 17, 2015


I am a heavy user . . . of the Multnomah County Library.

Every day, as I'm researching my current writing project, I use books I've checked out of the library. And I use online sources like the Oxford English Dictionary or JSTOR (an ultra geeky research database that allows me to find articles in languages I don't even read, which I then try to translate), which I access through the library's website. The Interlibrary Loan service has gotten me books from all over the country when I need them.

And maybe most important of all, I look out my window every day and watch families walking to and from the library. Which is about the best inspiration a writer can have.

So what does a heavy user and long-time lover do to say thanks? Volunteers to spend the next 4-8 years making the library better for everyone in Multnomah County.


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August 11, 2015

Meet the Bees

Look closely at her legs -- can you see what she's gathered to bring back to the hive?
This is what it looks like when you pop the top off a Langstroth hive
It is very difficult to take a good selfie in a beekeeping suit.
Each "box" of a standard Langstroth hive has 10 frames. Here's what a frame looks like.
Sometimes I watch bees at work in my yard. Thanks for keeping the plants looking good, girls!
When I walk through the neighborhood and see bees in plants in other people's yards, I wonder whether they are my girls out foraging.
If you've never tasted local honey, you should. Like wine or cheese or chocolate, it's a wonderful thing to savor. Each year I organize a honey tasting of over 20 local beekeepers. The range of tastes is amazing, and most of the beekeepers can't recognize their own bees' honey in a blind taste test.

I get a lot of questions from readers about the honey bees in Juliet's Nurse, so I thought I'd take the time to introduce them.

Here's a video in which I talk about the bees right under their noses. And their wings. And all the other bits of them.

(My agent once said, "You are like a crazy cat lady, but with insects." So true)

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July 23, 2015

Ashland, Home of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival

Oregon: historically known for covered wagons, giant timber, and awesome Shakespeare.

Yes, Shakespeare.

Ashland, Oregon, is home of one of the oldest and most well-respected Shakespeare Festivals in the country. Which means when you do a chat on local NPR about your Shakespeare-themed novel, you better know your stuff. Or rather, his stuff. Give a listen and see what you think.

And if you happen to attend the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, stop into the Tudor Guild bookshop, they have some very sweet items, made here in the Pacific Northwest.

Tudor Guild Bookstore

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July 13, 2015

Civil War Weekend

It's not that we're still fighting the Civil War.

It's that we're still fighting about how to remember the Civil War.

So pleased to be headed to Josephine Community Library to tackle this important topic.

Civl War Weekend poster

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