5 Famous Irish Writers to Read this St. Patrick’s Day

Ireland is home to some of the greatest writers in history. From novelists to playwrights, there’s an argument for Ireland having one of the greatest literary traditions in the world. Celebrate Irish history before the St. Patrick’s Day festivities begin by learning a couple facts about five of the most iconic Irish writers and their timeless literary achievements.

5 Famous Writers to Read on St. Patrick's Day

Dublin, Ireland – Where James Joyce, Oscar Wilde, G.B. Shaw and Bram Stoker were born.

Bram Stoker

Bram Stoker is most famously known for his masterpiece, Draculabut few people know that he was born and raised in Dublin, Ireland in 1847. Stoker attended the famous Trinity College in Dublin with a degree in Mathematics, and spent the majority of his working life as a civil servant, small-time theatre reviewer and theatre manager. In his spare time, he wrote and published several horror tales, first as short stories and then as novels. It took him decades to finally write what is known today as one of the most iconic horror novels, which was finally published in 1897. Unlike many great writers who are only appreciated after their death, Stoker found instant success with Dracula. He died in London in 1912.

5 Famous Irish Writers to Read this St. Patrick's Day

Statue of James Joyce on Earl Street — Dublin, Ireland

James Joyce

An obvious contender for the title of “Best Writer of the Twentieth Century”, James Joyce was born in Dublin, Ireland in 1882. Coming from humble origins, Joyce managed to work his way into University College Dublin, where he focused on studying modern languages. Publishing his first short story at the age of 22, Joyce left Ireland to travel and experience the world, earning his way by teaching English in foreign countries, which wasn’t difficult given the fact that he would learn over 17 languages in his lifetime. All this time, he wrote, and in 1914 he published his first collection of short stories, Dubliners, following the well-received book with a novel, Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. It wasn’t until 1922 that he published his masterpiece, Ulysses, which completely redefined the modern novel.

George Bernard Shaw

Initially aspiring to be a novelist, George Bernard Shaw eventually found his calling as a playwright. Born in Dublin, Ireland in 1856, Shaw suffered through several failed attempts at writing novels before he fell in love with the theatre. Starting, like Stoker, as a critic, he began writing his own plays and found major success. Man and Superman (1903), Major Barbara (1907) and Pygmalion (1913) are just a few of his most famous works. In 1925, Shaw was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature, one of four Irish writers to ever receive the award and the second after W.B. Yeats (1923). Years later, Shaw would also receive the Academy Award for best screenplay, adapting his play, Pygmalion, for the 1938 film.

5 Famous Irish Writers to Read this St. Patrick's Day

Statue of Oscar Wilde in Merrion Square — Dublin, Ireland

Oscar Wilde

Born in Dublin in 1854, Oscar Wilde was essentially destined for success. The proud son of a knighted father and a linguist mother, Wilde excelled in his studies, eventually earning a prestigious scholarship to Trinity College in 1871. He received some of the college’s top honors during his studies, earning himself yet another distinguished scholarship, this time to the University of Oxford, where he would go on to collect even more awards. Drawn to poetry, Wilde started publishing poetry collections while delivering lectures on topics such as classics, literature, and most notably, aesthetics. During this highly productive time, he also wrote some of his most famous literary works, including The Picture of Dorian Gray (1891), his best novel, and The Importance of Being Earnest (1895), his most iconic play.

C.S. Lewis

Those who aren’t familiar with the name C.S. Lewis have likely heard of his most famous fantasy epic, The Chronicles of Narnia. Born in Belfast, Ireland in 1898 (as Clive Staples Lewis), he fought and was wounded in WWI, and eventually went on to receive a degree from Oxford University. He spent most of his life teaching at the university level, became an esteemed writer and lecturer of Christianity, conversed on a regular basis with J.R.R. Tolkien, and finally wrote the series that would drive his legacy, beginning with The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe in 1950. As great a theologian as he was a fantasy writer, Lewis finished his career teaching at Cambridge University until his early death in 1963.

Find all kinds of great books for the entire family at Lakeside. And don’t forget to enter Lakeside’s Shamrock Sweepstakes for a chance to win a $50 Lakeside Gift Certificate!

Fall Flavors: Apple Picking and Oktoberfest Menu Ideas

A few weeks into Autumn. The air is crisp, but not too cold. The leaves are changing and starting to fall. But the weather isn’t the only thing that is changing. Our taste in food changes a little bit as well. Fall flavors like apple, pumpkin and cinnamon are what we crave. Fall festivals like Oktoberfest offer mouthwatering menus we look forward to every year. Learn about the flavors of fall with these articles on apples and Oktoberfest.


American As Apple Pie: The Apple’s Journey to America
For a country that’s second in the world in apple production, a nation with a proud idiom like “American as apple pie,” it’s odd to learn that all these apples weren’t around when colonists first settled on American soil. The apple’s journey to America is a curious one, intertwined with colonial tastes, the founding fathers and even a popular legend or two. Read on to learn more about the apple’s deep roots in our American history.


What to Put On Your Oktoberfest Menu
With summer barbecues in our past and holiday parties ahead of us, we’re in that wonderful fall transitional period. Oktoberfest is to us what trick-or-treating is for the little ones. But you don’t have to pack your travel pillow and get on a 10-hour flight to take part in the festival. You can have your own fest at home. You know that beer is a must, but you need some snacks to go with it. Here’s what to put on your Oktoberfest menu.


Apple Picking Guide
It’s that time of year when apples taste the sweetest and farms open to the public for apple picking. It is one of those fall activities for which everyone should set aside a crisp day and leave behind the cheap toys and chores to celebrate the beautiful autumn season. Here’s a quick guide to picking the best apples this fall.

Wine Wednesday: Interesting Facts About Wine in America

It took some time for wine to become as popular in America as it is in Europe, and even longer for American wine to earn worldwide recognition and respect. While wine isn’t nearly as popular as beer on U.S. soil, it’s widely consumed and continues to blend into mainstream culture. Wine Wednesday is the perfect occasion to uncork your favorite vintage in the middle of the week. Before pouring a glass of sauvignon blanc or while you’re sipping a sweet Riesling, take a look at these fun, interesting facts on the history of wine in America.


Oldest Winery in the U.S.A.
The oldest operating winery in America is the Brotherhood Winery. Located in Washingtonville, New York, it produced its first wine for commercial consumption in 1839, and is still up and running. In fact, some original facilities are still being used in the wine-making process, and wine enthusiasts can explore the sights to get an idea of what it was like to make wine in America during the 19th century. Visitors to this National Historic Site can try wine tastings, check out the grounds, take special tours and bring home some delicious wines.

Wine During Prohibition
Establishments like the Brotherhood Winery were in danger of going out of business during the Prohibition throughout the 1920’s. However, there was a loophole for wineries to continue to operate, selling their wine to the Catholic Church for sacramental wine purposes. While many wineries and businesses dependent on wine didn’t make it through the dry years, wineries which were lucky enough to stay under contract with the church thrived (likely selling to more customers than the church). In addition, at-home wine making kits were legal during Prohibition, allowing Americans to produce a certain amount of wine per year for personal use.


When Everything Changed
In May of 1976, the most respected wine connoisseurs in Paris assembled for a blind taste-test between the noble French wines that were regarded as the best in the world and up-and-coming American wines from a few vineyards in California. The challenge wasn’t given much attention by the French media because it was impossible for the unknown Californian wineries to compete with France. Surprisingly, the wines judged as the best for red and white were both Californian, paving the way for wine in America and around the world.

Top Spot for the Time Being
Americans drink a lot of wine. More and more since the wine scene really started to take root and trickle into popular culture. In addition to consuming the most wine, the American wine tourism scene is also booming, attracting millions of tourists annually to hot spots like Napa Valley and Sonoma Country in California. And in case you were wondering what wines Americans love the most, the top spot goes to Chardonnay, with a close following from Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Grigio and Merlot, while Pinot Noir rounds out the top five.

Whether you love capping off a long day with a glass of wine or plan on serving wine at Thanksgiving this year, find all the wine supplies you need at The Lakeside Collection, from glasses to wine bottle holders.

Most Memorable Olympic Opening Ceremonies

As with any tradition stretched over more than a century, the Olympic opening ceremony has changed quite a bit. The modern Olympic Games have taken place in three consecutive centuries. Over that time, athletes have tested the limitations of the human body, sports apparel has evolved beyond recognition and aspiring cities have spent millions of dollars transforming their infrastructure in record times to impress the world. So much has changed, but the Olympics are overflowing with tradition, none more impressive than the Olympic opening ceremonies. Here are some of the most memorable and the moments that made them so special.


The Panathenaic Stadium in Athens was the site of the first modern Olympics in 1896. It is also where the Olympic flame is finally passed to the host nation to start the Olympic Torch Relay.

1896 – Athens, Greece
It’s hard not to start our list with the first modern Olympics. The Olympics were revived in Athens, setting the standard for many traditions that are still in motion to this day. Athens drew on more than a thousand years of ancient Olympic history for the revival, organizing an opening ceremony which included an introductory speech by the organizer of the Olympic committee followed by a brief welcome by the Head of State. After the words came the music, which was an Olympic hymn accompanied by words from the then current poet Kostis Palamas. It wasn’t until 1920 that other ancient traditions started becoming a part of the ceremonies, such as the oath of sportsmanship taken by the athletes and the lighting of the Olympic flame.

1948 – London, England
The Olympics were postponed for twelve years following the 1936 Olympics because of World War II, and returned in spectacular fashion. However, these Games are not remembered for expensive pageantry. In fact, they quickly became known as the Austerity Games due to the fact that little money was spent creating new stadiums and other accommodations, which became typical leading up to the 1936 Olympics. Rather, the return of the Olympics in a rebuilding London stood as a symbol of Allied victory in World War II. It was as reflective as it was moving, an example of the world returning to some long-awaited sense of normality. International broadcasting didn’t occur until 1956, but the 1948 Games were televised locally in London.

1964 – Tokyo, Japan
Unable to participate in the 1948 Olympics in London, the Japanese were eventually awarded the Games in 1964. It was the first Olympics to be broadcast live around the world, the first to be broadcast in color and one of the first to hold the Games in the fall to avoid the sweltering heat. Although Japan participated in the 1952 Olympics following their ban in 1948, hosting the Olympics presented an opportunity to illustrate their own tribute to the horror of World War II, the humility of a nation and the resiliency of the human spirit. Born on the day the atomic bomb was dropped in Hiroshima in 1945, 19-year-old Yoshinori Sakai was given the honor of lighting the Olympic cauldron with the Olympic torch, symbolizing Japan’s commitment to peace.

1992 – Barcelona, Spain
The opening ceremony at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles are remembered as being a bit over the top or altogether underwhelming given the exorbitant cost. Some critics believe that it marked the beginning of the overzealous opening ceremonies. On the contrary, the 1988 Olympics in Seoul might have rectified matters if not for several of the doves that were released being torched by the Olympic cauldron. 1992 presented an opportunity to restore the quality of the opening ceremony and get back to the traditional Olympic roots, and it didn’t disappoint. One of the most memorable moments was when Spanish archer, Antonio Rebollo, lit his arrow from the Olympic torch and took aim at the cauldron atop the stadium. The dramatic moment might’ve been outdone in 1996 when Muhammad Ali fought his way to the Olympic cauldron, but cannot be ignored.

2008 – Beijing, China
The Olympic opening ceremonies continued to evolve and expand into the twenty-first century, growing into one of the largest live spectacles ever assembled and always trying to top the previous host nation. China’s to thank for setting the present day standard for the opening ceremony. It’s no surprise that London fell a bit short in 2012, and Rio isn’t expected to outperform what occurred in Beijing on the warm early August night. Chinese film director Zhang Yimou, along with top choreographers and composers, undertook the weighty task of capturing China’s rich cultural history in a beautiful narrative with one thrilling act after another until the torch was finally lit in spectacular fashion. The only drawback was the production cost — $100 million.

History in The Making: 4 Olympic Facts You Might Not Have Known

Olympic-MedalsWith the opening of the 2014 Olympics excitement has been building in anticipation of what teams will take gold, silver and bronze.  So far we have seen some great competition. Figure Skating, Snowboarding, Luge, Ski Jumping and Speedskating are just a few.  The Olympic tradition has been going on for centuries and has evolved into the great Winter and Summer Games we know today. Here are four historic facts about the Olympics that you may not have known.

1. Ancient Greece

The Olympics were originally celebrated as a religious festival starting in 776 B.C. celebrating the Greek God Zeus. History tells us the first Olympian to win an Olympic event was Coroebus who at the time was a chef. The event was The Stade which was a 192 meter footrace. Around 393 A.D the celebrated games were banned and wouldn’t surface again until 1894.

2. Olympic Revival

Though the Olympics were banned for quite some time, hope was not lost for the ancient games.  Baron Pierre De Coubertin proposed a reviving the games in a new tradition. The revival of the ancient games took place in Greece in 1896 which is what we now know as the Summer Olympic Games. The first Winter Olympic Games came about in 1924 and was held in France.

3. Four Years or Two

The Olympic Games were traditionally held every four years up until 1994. In 1986 the International Olympic Committee ruled that the games still be held every four years but on alternating cycles. This historic decision changed the Olympics to a 2 year cycle that alternated between the Summer and Winter games.

4. The Games in Your Living Room

We have grown accustom to watching the Olympics in our living rooms on T.V. for years, some of us for as long as we can remember but the games were not always at our finger tips. The Olympics were not televised until 1960.  On February 18th 1960 Walter Cronkite guided families through this historic televised event on CBS.  The Olympics have been broadcast over the airwaves ever since.

The Olympics have impacted history throughout the years whether you are watching them on T.V. or attending. After our historic opening ceremony of the Lakeside Office Olympics our athletes prepared for their first event; The Recycle Bin Relay. This intense relay challenged our athletes to recycle as many pieces of paper possible into a recycling bin within one minute. The event was fast passed and kept us at the very edge of our seats!

Congratulations to the first Lakeside Games winner; Customer Service! They took on the Recycle Bin Relay head on and never gave up.  Stay tuned to the Lakeside View! We have more exciting coverage of the #LakesideGames coming your way!


5 Little-Known Christmas Facts

Christmas-treeChristmas is a holiday with deep roots, but no matter how much you enjoy the festive carols and the beautifully trimmed tree, you may not know some of these fascinating facts about the merriest day of the year.

Xmas Is an Old Term

Plenty of people think the “X” in Xmas is a way for advertisers to shorten the name of the holiday, but the nickname has a long history. Far from being a breezy abbreviation, it’s a deeply religious symbol that got its start in monasteries. First commonly used in religious texts in the 1400s, the letter “X” signified the cross and was the first letter of Christ’s name in the Greek alphabet. For monks who spent hours toiling over manuscripts, finding a way to write quickly and efficiently was vital. When they replaced Christ’s name with an X, they were using what linguists call a Christogram.

Christmas Trees Have a Roman Heritage

You might think of the tradition of Christmas trees as a German one, if “O Tannenbaum” is any indication, but decorating evergreens for the winter holiday goes back far longer than the Germans. Ancient Romans adorned boughs of evergreen trees with fruits and nuts for their Saturnalia celebrations each winter. Early Christians may have adopted the evergreen tree as a symbol of rebirth and renewal to make the holiday feel more familiar to Roman converts to what was then a new faith. The German tradition dates from the 1700s, but it didn’t catch on in England and America until Queen Victoria wrote about her happy memories of decorating trees as a princess.

A Famous Author Created Christmas Elves

Louisa May Alcott was most famous for writing Little Women, but she was a prolific author who penned many other short stories, novels and non-fiction articles. One of her short stories in 1856 mentioned Christmas elves, pointy-capped creatures who helped Santa Claus care for his reindeer and make gifts for good children. Although the story wasn’t published in her lifetime, she shared it with other writers, and a few years later, a story about Santa’s elves appeared in a copy of the magazine “Godey’s Lady’s Book,” one of the most influential publications of its time. Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy are enduring characters, but Alcott’s most famous literary creations might be Santa’s little helpers.

Most Pets Get Christmas Gifts

If you consider your pets members of the family, you aren’t alone. About half of pet owners extend their Christmas spirit of giving to their pets and hang a stocking for Fido or Fluffy, according to a recent USA Today poll. Whether it’s a cozy pet bed, a squeaky toy or a bag of treats, giving your pet something special brings a little Christmas cheer to everyone.

Christmas Used to Be Illegal in Boston

Bostonians who love Christmas should be thrilled they didn’t live there before 1681. Until that year, celebrating Christmas in Puritan Boston was illegal and would cost you a five-shilling fine. Eventually, civic leaders loosened up and allowed Christmas celebrations, but even then, early Americans weren’t big on the holiday; in fact, some Puritans considered it a holdover from Catholicism or even irreligious. It didn’t become a federal holiday until 1870, in part because the Puritans disapproved. Fortunately, most people didn’t see it that way, and Christmas celebrations have gotten steadily more joyous over the decades.

Image Crediteclecticallyvintage.com

The History of Valentine’s Day

Seasonal-Dishwasher-Magnet-ArtValentine’s Day. A holiday filled with love, flowers and chocolate. But before the chocolate, greeting cards and flowers, it was a church sanctioned holiday starting around 498 A.D. Filled with a rich and interesting history, Valentine’s Day isn’t just another made up holiday for greeting card companies.

Who Was Saint Valentine?
Because of its long history, it is hard to say who the Saint Valentine was—there were actually many early Christian martyrs named Valentine (or Valentinus). According to Wikipedia, the most popular of these Valentines was, “associated with [being] imprisoned for performing weddings for soldiers who were forbidden to marry and for ministering to Christians, who were persecuted under the Roman Empire; during his imprisonment, he is said to have healed the daughter of his jailer Asterius. Legend states that before his execution he wrote “from your Valentine” as a farewell to her.” We still use this saying to sign our cards today.

Enter the High Middle Ages
It wasn’t until the middle ages, that Valentine’s day was associated with love. We can thank the poet/author Geoffrey Chaucer for this. In his Parlement of Foules (published in 1382) he wrote: “For this was on Saint Valentine’s Day, when every bird cometh there to choose his mate.” A handful of other poets in this same time frame also made romantic associations with the holiday during this time.

Fast Forward to the 1700’s
It wasn’t until 1797 that we would see anything that resembles a modern day Valentine postcard. Starting in England, a publisher created The Young Man’s Valentine Writer, which were cards written for those who couldn’t express their love as eloquently as they hoped. These Valentines became so popular in England that by the early 19th century they were created in factories to keep up with the demand.

Jump to Modern Day
According to the Greeting Card Association, Americans send 145 million cards each year (this number doesn’t include Valentine’s given at schools). Christmas is the only holiday where more cards are sent. This is a far cry from the beginning of Valentine’s Day. The 20th century is also when giving gifts became the norm for Valentine’s Day. It wasn’t until the 1980’s that diamonds where associated with the holiday.

Do you celebrate Valentine’s Day? How do you show love to the special people in your life? Let us know in the comments below.

Memorial Day History


Photo by psilver

Memorial Day was originally known as Decoration Day because it was a time to honor the nation’s Civil War dead by decorating their graves.  On May 5, 1868, General John A. Logan of the Grand Army of the Republic declared in General Order No. 11 that:

The 30th of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village, and hamlet churchyard in the land.  In this observance no form of ceremony is prescribed, but posts and comrades will in their own way arrange such fitting services and testimonials of respect as circumstances may permit.

In 1971, Congress declared Memorial Day a national holiday to be celebrated the last Monday in May.  Let’s remember, observe and honor all those who have died in all of America’s wars on this Memorial Day.