I started my blog, Sites and Stories, to celebrate historic sites - the stories they tell, the stories they inspire. My posts often provide behind-the-scenes glimpses of places and themes featured in my books. I also write occasionally as a guest on other blogs, usually about facets of my Chloe Ellefson adult mystery books published by Midnight Ink. There’s a lot here - have fun exploring!

My Blog Posts

kathleen ernst, sophie the cat, writing, undisclosed location

Below are descriptions and links to the 2015 posts on my Sites and Stories blog and guest posts on other blogs. Enjoy!

Laura Land Tour: Burr Oak, IA

Color photo of the front of the restored Masters Hotel in Burr Oak IA where the Laura Ingalls Wilder lived and worked in 1876. "From Pepin, WI, it takes less than two hours to reach Burr Oak, IA. If you’re unfamiliar with the name, it’s because Laura Ingalls Wilder did not include this period in her famous books. The site, however, is well worth a visit. Laura and her family lived here in 1876, when she was nine." more>>

Posted November 29, 2015.

Gratitude Giveaway

Gratitude Giveaway cornicopia graphic. To thank her readers for the wonderful support they have shown for Death On The Prairie, the sixth Chloe Ellefson mystery, Kathleen is holding a gratitude giveaway. Six lucky readers will each receive a free, signed and personalized Chloe book of their choice. To enter, leave a comment on Kathleen's Sites and Stories blog or Facebook Author page before Midnight, Monday, November 23rd. Winners will be announced the next day. Good Luck to everyone!

Posted November 22, 2015.

Laura Land Tour: Pepin, WI

Photo by Kay Klubertanz of the reproduction the Ingalls family cabin near Pepin, WI. "Thanks for joining me for a blog tour of Laura Ingalls Wilder homesites!  Whether you’re an armchair traveler or planning your own road trip, I hope the tour helps you envision the many places Laura called home. Laura was born seven miles north of..." more>>

Posted November 19, 2015 to Kathleen's Sites and Stories blog.

Laura Ingalls Wilder And The Power Of Place

Photo of bestsellng author Kathleen Ernst looking at a wall map showing the places where children's author Laura Ingalls Wilder lived. "A strong sense of place is an essential element of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s classic books. Thematically, the series is all about place—finding a place to call home. Laura excelled at evoking her settings..." more>>

Posted November 9, 2015 to Kathleen's Sites and Stories blog.

Laura Ingalls Wilder: Books or TV?

Photo of a much used set of the original Laura Ingalls Wilder series of "Little House" books "Are you familiar with Laura Ingalls Wilder’s bestselling tales of life on the frontier of white settlement? And if so, were you introduced to the stories on the page, or on the screen?" more>>

Posted October 24, 2015 to Kathleen's Sites and Stories blog.

15 Things You (May Not) Know About Me

Bestselling author Kathleen Ernst and her partner winning the Jack & Jill Crosscut Saw contest while studying forestry in college. This week Midnight Ink, the publisher of my Chloe Ellefson mystery series, asked me to tell "Fifteen Fun Facts" about myself. Enjoy! more>>

Posted October 21, 2015 to the Under Cover of Midnight blog.

Venturing Into The Known

Black and white photo of Laura Ingalls Wilder as a young woman. Source: Wikipedia. "I’ve often said that when choosing topics and themes for my books, I look for untold stories. As a social historian and novelist, I love discovering tales and details about some topic, group, or person that excites my passion..." more>>

Posted October 17, 2015 to the Lori's Reading Corner blog.

The Hidden History of Laura Ingalls Wilder's Quilts

Photo by author Kathleen Ernst of the Hexagonal Star (also called the Rising Star) pattern quilt owned by Laura Ingalls Wilder, now in the collection of the Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum, in Walnut Grove, MN. "Anyone with an interest in family history knows how easy it is for information to disappear. When someone dies, a wealth of knowledge dies too." more>>

Posted October 15, 2015 to the Omnimystery News blog.

Laura Ingalls Wilder For Grownups

Partial image of the front cover of Little House In The Big Woods book by Laura Ingalls Wilder, cover art by Garth Williams, published 1953 by Harper & Row. "It’s always a gamble to return to beloved books from my childhood. More than once I’ve come across a favorite, and settled down to relive the fun…" more>>

Posted October 11, 2015 to the Storeybook Reviews blog.

Choosing a Setting

"The new Chloe mystery, Death On The Prairie, is the sixth. As the series has grown I’ve been delighted to receive readers’ suggestions for future settings. Equally delightful are invitations from staff at various historic sites and museums." more>>

Posted October 7, 2015 to the Escape with Dollycas into a Good Book blog.

The Ones Left Behind

Painting entitled Youngest Son's Farewell created by Norwegian artist Adolf Tideland, 1867 "Scott and I recently spent two weeks in Norway (lucky us!) and I thought a lot about the conditions that prompted so many people to leave in the 1800s. I also thought a lot about the people who did not emigrate—from Norway and elsewhere." more>>

Posted September 23, 2015 to Kathleen's Sites and Stories blog.

Immigrant Children

Black and white photo of Polish mother and her nine children at Ellis Island, New York, date unknown (Source: National Park Service, Ellis Island National Monument) "Immigrating as an adult in the 19th century would have been challenging enough. Can you imagine what the trip might have been like for a young child? Or for a parent needing to keep a toddler safe—or an infant relatively clean and comfortable—during the journey?" more>>

Posted September 16, 2015 to Kathleen's Sites and Stories blog.

Precious Papers

Handwritten travel document in the collection of the Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum. "A few years ago I enjoyed a behind-the-scenes tour of some of the artifacts in storage at Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum in Deborah, Iowa. Chief Curator Laurann Gilbertson showed a collection I’d never considered—immigrant wallets." more>>

Posted August 17, 2015 to Kathleen's Sites and Stories blog.

Old World Wisconsin: A Photographer’s Paradise

Photographer Loyd Heath at Old World Wisconsin. "Most of the photographs in Kathleen Ernst’s latest book A Settler’s Year: Pioneer Life Through the Seasons were taken by me at Old World Wisconsin, an outdoor living history museum located in Eagle, Wisconsin. Kathleen invited me to write this post about my interest in Old World, some of my thoughts about photography, and how I got involved..." more>>

Posted August 11, 2015 to Kathleen's Sites and Stories blog.

Immigrants And The Erie Canal

Sunday on the Canal, Paul Frenzeny, colorized version of woodcut printed in Harper’s Weekly, 1873; Erie Canal Museum. "When thinking about the journey undertaken by 19th-century European immigrants, my mind instinctively conjures pictures of life aboard ships crossing the Atlantic. But when travelers bound for the Upper Midwest reached North America, their journey was far from over. Many traveled to Albany and boarded a boat headed west on the Erie Canal." more>>

Posted August 5, 2015 to Kathleen's Sites and Stories blog.

Immigrant Trunks

Photo of a young woman doing in Norwegian rosemaling (rose painting) on the wooden shipping trunk painted by Ola Eriksen Tveitejorde, of Voss, Norway, from the collection of Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum, Deborah, Iowa. "A Settler’s Year:  Pioneer Life Through the Seasons focuses primarily on newcomers’ experience after reaching their destination. But many of the European immigrants’ diaries, letters, and reminiscences included poignant descriptions of their journey..." more>>

Posted July 6, 2015 to Kathleen's Sites and Stories blog.

Why A Settler's Year?

Front cover of the non-fiction book A Settler's Year: Pioneer Life Through The Seasons, written by bestselling author Kathleen Ernst, illustrated with photographs by Loyd Heath, and published in 2015 by the Wisconsin Historical Society Press. "I’ve been thinking about the journey I’ve taken with this book. Why did I spend two years living with this project, and why was I confident that readers would care. My interest in the topic goes back to 1981, when I first toured the fledgling historic site called Old World Wisconsin." more>>

Posted July 5, 2015 to Kathleen's Sites and Stories blog.

Hands-On Wycinanki

Image of a chicken created by bestselling author Kathleen Ernst using traditional Polish wycinanki papercutting. "Readers have been wondering where they can try their hands at wycinanki, the art of Polish paper cutting featured in Tradition of Deceit. (Learn more about wycinanki here.) If you live in Wisconsin, try contacting the Polish Center of Wisconsin, the Polish Heritage Club of Madison, or other local Polish heritage groups." more>>

Posted June 30, 2015 to Kathleen's Sites and Stories blog.

Urban Anthropology in Milwaukee’s Old South Side

Milwaukee's Old South Side Settlement Museum sign. "I discovered the wonderful work being done by Urban Anthropology while working on Tradition of Deceit. The organization’s museum and programs began when a group of cultural anthropologists in Milwaukee decided to apply their skills—cultural research, museum curation, cultural land-use, neighborhood oral histories, film-making, and others—to the city." more>>

Posted June 26, 2015 to Kathleen's Sites and Stories blog.

My Cookbook Shelf

Photo montage of cookbooks and recipe cards belonging to bestselling author Kathleen Ernst. "I’ve spent the last year having fun with old recipes from Minnesota’s flour milling history. And I had fun celebrating The Washington Island Cook Book and The Settlement Cook Book. As I was thinking about a final post for cookbook week, I decided to see what stories my own cookbook shelf can tell." more>>

Posted June 12, 2015 to Kathleen's Sites and Stories blog.

The Settlement Cookbook

Photo by Lynn Kalil of the front cover of her mother's much used copy of The Settlement Cookbook. "My dear friend Lynn recently shared a photo of a family treasure—her mother’s copy of The Settlement Cookbook. [Lynn writes] My mom was married in the 1920s, and I think in those days ladies didn’t have the wealth of cookbooks available that we have now. This was my mom’s “go to” for everything. I remember her having the pages open and making the best meals for all of us. She and my dad used everything from their huge garden... more>>

Posted June 10, 2015 to Kathleen's Sites and Stories blog.

Washington Island Cook Book

Swedish Tea Ring recipe by Mrs. Sylvia Cornell, published in the Washington Island Cook Book, copyright 1947, compiled by the Trinity Lutheran Ladies’ Aid. "I was thrilled to receive a copy of this community cookbook from a thoughtful reader. It’s a first edition, copyright 1947, compiled by the Trinity Lutheran Ladies’ Aid. Several scenes from The Light Keeper’s Legacy are set on Washington Island... more>>

Posted June 8, 2015 to Kathleen's Sites and Stories blog.

Flash Giveaway!

Summer Reading Giveaway image using Rock Island Wisconsin fishing village beach photo by Scott Meeker for bestselling author Kathleen Ernst. "It’s summer reading season, so I am declaring a 10-Book Tuesday. Leave a comment here by midnight, June 2, to enter. On June 3 I’ll choose ten names at random from entries here and on my Facebook page. Each winner can pick any one of my existing titles. Those include Chloe Ellefson mysteries, original Caroline books, Be Forever editions of Caroline books, older American Girl mysteries, Civil War novels and nonfiction…" more>>

Posted June 2, 2015 to Kathleen's Sites and Stories blog.

Butter Cake - 1930s

Photo of mixing bowl of Butter Cake batter created by Michelle L. using a 1930s General Mills recipe. Photo by Michelle L. "Welcome to Cooking With Chloe! We’re still celebrating the baked goods explored in Tradition of Deceit. This week we have another tasty recipe from Gold Medal Flour, Buttercup Cake with Buttercup Icing. Michelle L. tried the recipe for us. The verdict:  Everyone in my family thought it was..." more>>

Posted May 20, 2015 to Kathleen's Sites and Stories blog.

Folk Art, Knitting, Murder, And More...

Wrist warmers knitted by Donna Druchunas using a traditional Lithuanian pattern. Photo by Donna Druchunas. "I am delighted have my friend Donna Druchunas as guest on Sites and Stories! Donna is an expert knitter, dedicated to documenting and sharing traditional patterns from around the world. Many of her own original designs are inspired by artifact and heirloom pieces. I’ve been a huge fan of her work for a long time. Welcome, Donna!" more>>

Posted May 18, 2015 to Kathleen's Sites and Stories blog.

Old World Wisconsin Locations Guide

Photo of the Kvaale homestead farmyard at Old World Wisconsin. "As the Chloe Ellefson Mystery series grows, I thought it would be helpful to provide a single list of Old World Wisconsin locations that appear in the books. (Special note:  This Sunday, May 17, I’ll be sharing a preview of the next Chloe mystery, Death on the Prairie, at Old World. The 4 PM program is free of charge..." more>>

Posted May 14, 2015 to Kathleen's Sites and Stories blog.

Old-Time Molasses Cake – 1930s (Gluten Free)

Front side of 1930's Gold Medal Flour recipe card for Old-Time Molasses Cake. "Welcome to Cooking With Chloe! The celebration of food explored in Tradition of Deceit continues.  This week we have another wonderful recipe from Gold Medal Flour, Old-Time Molasses Cake. Colette B. tried the recipe for us." more>>

Posted May 12, 2015 to Kathleen's Sites and Stories blog.

Farewell Caroline

Photo of bestselling author Kathleen Ernst at the Sackets Harbor Battlefield State of New York Historic Site sign in 2014. "American Girl has announced that Caroline Abbott, the 1812 character I created, will be archived. While I am, of course, disappointed with the decision to retire Caroline, I am grateful to have amazing and wonderful memories..." more>>

Posted May 5, 2015 to Kathleen's Sites and Stories blog.


Sepia tone 1982 photo of Kathleen Ernst in 19th century clothing working as an interpreter in the 1875 Schottler farm at the Old World Wisconsin outdoor history museum. "Rhubarb is popping up in my garden, so this edition of Cooking With Chloe comes from yours truly. As curator of collections at Old World Wisconsin, Chloe Ellefson, protagonist of my historic sites mysteries series, is responsible for maintaining the antique stoves in each historic kitchen. In Tradition of Deceit Chloe skis to one of the German farms one winter day—for purely professional reasons, of course—and bakes kuchen." more>>

Posted April 29, 2015 to Kathleen's Sites and Stories blog.

Ginger Creams - 1929

Photo of plate of Ginger Creams cookies made by Alice and Elizabeth using a 1929 Gold Medal Flour recipe. "Welcome to Cooking with Chloe! Alice and Elizabeth, another mother-daughter team, tested Ginger Creams for us, a Gold Medal recipe. This cookie was named a Betty Crocker Prize Recipe in 1929. The verdict: The cookies were delicious, and..." more>>

Posted April 22, 2015 to Kathleen's Sites and Stories blog.

Apple Pie With Cheese Crust – 1934

Cover illustration of Betty Crocker's 15 Prize Recipes favorites of each year 1921 to 1936. "Welcome to Cooking With Chloe! I love collecting historic and/or ethnic recipes while working on each Chloe Ellefson mystery. Since Tradition of Deceit features the flour mill that gave us Gold Medal Flour and Betty Crocker—not to mention the Mill City Museum, which also celebrates the history of Pillsbury and other mills—I ended up with stacks of recipes.  Fortunately, some adventurous readers volunteered to test some for me." more>>

Posted April 16, 2015 to Kathleen's Sites and Stories blog.

Cooking With Betty Crocker—And Chloe

Color copy of a color print ad for the Betty Crocker Gold Medal show on WCCO radio in Minneapolis, MN. "When I was writing Tradition of Deceit, I marveled at the connections between the the Mill City Museum, one of the settings, and popular American culture. The museum was created within what was once the Washburn-Crosby A Mill. You may not have heard of Washburn-Crosby, but chances are good you’ve heard of Gold Medal Flour. The company also created Betty Crocker, one of the most successful advertising personas of all time." more>>

Posted April 14, 2015 to Kathleen's Sites and Stories blog.

Tunnel of Fudge Cake

Color photo of a slice of Tunnel of Fudge cake, taken from 17th annual Pillsbury Busy Lady Bake-Off Recipes booklet of 1966. "I had not heard of the Tunnel of Fudge Cake until I began doing research while writing Tradition of Deceit (the 5th Chloe Ellefson mystery), which celebrates Minnesota’s flour milling history and the Mill City Museum. As soon as I heard the name, I knew Chloe would love it. When I heard it was probably the most popular recipe in the history of Pillsbury’s famous Bake-Off..." more>>

Posted April 7, 2015 to Kathleen's Sites and Stories blog.


Wycinanki artists Kasia Drake-Hames (center) and her grandmother (left) and Kasia's mother (right) at Poland Under Glass 2015 in Milwaukee, WI. "Folk art plays a role in most of the Chloe Ellefson mysteries. Since Tradition of Deceit features bits of Polish culture, I decided to include wycinanki—the Polish form of paper cutting. Wycinanki (pronounced vee-chee-non-kee) originated in the 1800s when shepherds passed quiet hours by snipping designs from..." more>>

Posted March 30, 2015 to Kathleen's Sites and Stories blog.

Caroline’s Quilt – Part 2

Link to the "Caroline's Quilt" blog post, posted 25 March 2015 to the Sites and Storeis blog of bestselling author Kathleen Ernst. "It took a long time to piece or appliqué a quilt in Caroline’s day.  In Traitor in the Shipyard, friends help Caroline and Rhonda complete a beautiful quilt top. In the new Caroline mystery, The Smuggler’s Secrets..." more>>

Posted March 24, 2015 to Kathleen's Sites and Stories blog.

Caroline’s Quilt – Part 1

This design was one of many appliquéd pictures made on an album quilt in 1847. Wouldn’t Caroline love the ship design? (Grand Rapids Public Museum Collection,  2006.8.1) "In my first Caroline mystery, Traitor in the Shipyard, Caroline and her friend Rhonda decide to make a quilt as a gift for Lydia, Caroline’s cousin. Their first task was to choose a design for their quilt." more>>

Posted March 16, 2015 to Kathleen's Sites and Stories blog.

The Grand National Recipe and Baking Contest

Color photo of Peanut Butter Blossom cookies created by Freda Smith in 1957. "Although housed in the former Gold Medal Flour mill, the Mill City Museum interprets the broader story of flour milling in Minneapolis. The old Pillsbury Flour mill sits right across the river. And you can’t talk about Pillsbury history without mentioning the famous Bake-Off (R)." more>>

Posted March 11, 2015 to Kathleen's Sites and Stories blog.

Caroline's Pocket

"Did you know that pockets weren’t always sewn into clothes? Girls in Caroline’s day most likely used tie-on pockets. In The Smuggler’s Secrets, my new mystery, Caroline has a problem when she travels to Lydia’s farm: Caroline climbed to the loft and dug through her valise. She had no trouble finding her handkerchief, but..." more>>

Posted March 5, 2015 to Kathleen's Sites and Stories blog.

Paczki - Polish Donuts

Color photo of Paczki Polish donut. "In Poland—and Polish communities—Fat Thursday is observed on the Thursday before Lent.  People traditionally celebrate by eating pączki (pronounced POHNCH-kee), fried rounds of sweet yeast dough often filled with jelly. The doughnuts are eaten in such quantities that the day is called Pączki Day. Polish culture and baking are two important themes of my 5th Chloe Ellefson Historic Sites Mystery, Tradition of Deceit." more>>

Posted February 19, 2015 to Kathleen's Sites and Stories blog.

Death on the Prairie – Sneak Preview

Cover of Death on the Prairie (A Chloe Ellefson Mystery) written by bestselling author Kathleen Ernst, published 08 October 2015 by Midnight Ink Books. "I’ve gotten lots of queries about the 6th Chloe Ellefson mystery. When is it coming? Which historic sites are featured? So, I’m happy to share a sneak preview." more>>

Posted January 27, 2015 to Kathleen's Sites and Stories blog.

Roelke Goes to Prison

Photo by bestselling author Kathleen Ernst of the ornate ironwork over an entrance to the Waupun Correctional Institution in Waupun, Wisconsin, which is a setting in Tradition of Deceit, Kathleen's fifth Chloe Ellefson adult mystery series published by Midnight Ink books. "When writing Tradition of Deceit, I needed to include a set scene at a prison. Waupun Correctional Institution was the logical choice. The prison is one of the oldest in the country. It is listed on the Wisconsin register of historic places, and in 1992 was added to the National Register of Historic Places as the “Wisconsin State Prison Historic District.” more>>

Posted January 6, 2015 to Kathleen's Sites and Stories blog.

Coming Attractions - 2015

Image of stage with red curtains overlaid with the words Coming Attractions 2015. "Happy New Year! I hope you have lots of good things on the horizon. Here are some things I’m looking forward to in 2015..." more>>

Posted January 3, 2015 to Kathleen's Sites and Stories blog.