Monday, December 24, 2012

Joy to the World

This is the story we read every year and never tire of hearing.
Every Christmas Eve we gather and read
Luke 2 from the New Testament in the Holy Bible
1 And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Cæsar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed.
2 (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)
3 And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.
4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judæa, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:)
5 To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.
6 And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.
7 And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the  inn.
8 And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
9 And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
15 And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.
16 And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.
17 And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.
18 And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.
19 But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.
20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.
I wish you a very merry Christmas and a year filled with rich blessings.

Monday, December 17, 2012


The world lately seems to have gone nuts.
Well, not everyone, but nutty things are happening.
This is one of the good guys.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Nutty Toffee - ohhh so good!


The delicious toffee is fairly simple to make - be sure to cook it when the weather is dry - too much moisture in the air will keep it from forming properly (and always use REAL butter.)


             Chop and toast in a 350° oven 5 – 7 minutes
1 C raw almonds
            Set aside.  Place in an 11 x 17" jelly roll pan

3 C deluxe mixed nuts (no peanuts)

            Rub the inside of a large heavy pan with butter, then melt over low heat

1 1/2 C salted butter


1 1/2 C sugar

3 TBSP water
Cook over low heat until sugar is dissolved; avoid getting sugar on the sides of the pan while cooking. Wipe sides down with a wet pastry brush if necessary. When sugar is dissolved, turn heat to medium high and continue cooking to 290° or hard crack stage. Remove from heat, add

1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

            Pour over mixed nuts in baking pan. Immediately spread with

12 oz. milk chocolate chips

            Place an inverted 11 x 17" pan over the toffee mixture. Allow chocolate chips to melt for   
            about 5 minutes, then using a knife or spatula, spread the chocolate chips evenly over the
            surface of the toffee. Sprinkle with toasted chopped almonds. Place in the freezer for a few 
            minutes to quickly cool toffee. Break apart into chunks with a knife. Store in an airtight       

Monday, November 26, 2012

My favorite 1960's Carlsbad Christmases

Christmas is my favorite time of the year. I love the festive music, the beautiful decorations, the love in the air. It seems the world is decked out in my favorite colors of red and green. I love the scent of fresh-cut pine, the myriad of colored lights and familiar ornaments, the popcorn balls and toffee. I love the art of Christmas; Handel’s Messiah, The Nutcracker ballet, the loving painted renditions of the Nativity. Love; handcrafted, wrapped and delivered. It seems mankind’s greatest talents and best efforts are expended at the celebration of Christ’s birth. He was an artist and artisan, I’m sure he appreciates all heart-felt generosity.

I was born two days after Christmas. My little five foot tall mom delivered her first baby, all 8 lbs and 14 oz. of me. My poor mom almost bled to death, I still feel bad about that.  I was wrapped in a blue blanket because the hospital had run out of pink, bother. I don’t remember much, I heard a comedian say that he kept a journal from his birth. The first entry was; “still tired from the move.” But I’ve always loved sharing my birthday with Christmas. Except in seventh grade. My mom was single and there was never had enough money for extras. Two of my good friends had June birthdays – they received cool things for summer: radios, beach towels, new clothes - girl stuff. It occurred to me that my gift season was the middle of winter – no cool summer things for me.

Otherwise I LOVED Christmas. My Mom was an excellent cook and possessed the valuable skill of being able to create something wonderful out of not much. I loved her colorful M&M cookies, fudge and pecan sandies rolled in powdered sugar. Christmas music filled our house; the air was scented with bayberry candles. It seemed the whole world was filled with hidden surprises. I loved the joy and security of gathering with my favorite people and sitting as a family to share the story of Christ’s birth. My mom played carols on my sister's toy organ, I displayed the nativity cut-outs I received in Primary at church and we sang. Our church put on a Christmas party every year. I think there was a dinner with lots of children running around while their parents visited. And Santa always came. I was nervous that I hadn’t been good enough, but he smiled and twinkled and I felt somehow reassured that my stocking would be filled and I would receive something special – he always came through.  He gave each child a small white paper bag; one year containing a popcorn ball, tangerine, a warbling bird whistle and a few little Christmas-shaped chewy candies. And a small candy cane. There was always a candy cane.

I loved the way the whole town seemed to light up to share the joy of the season. From the second-grade Christmas plays, I mean plays put on by the second grade; the colorful construction paper chains and Christmas trees, covered with stick-on stars, cotton balls and glitter to the class parties. We would drive around looking at the lights and Christmas displays in the neighborhood and downtown. Every year at the fire station,  the trucks were cleared out and Santa reigned from his sled in the midst of a winter wonderland. Sleepy the Travelodge bear was at the fire station. (A celebrity in the village – how did he get there?) We shopped downtown; picking up small gifts at the pharmacy and T.G. & Y. for teacher and my younger siblings. The only mall was a half hour away in San Diego, very distant and exotic.

I worked hard at discovering the location of hidden gifts; I have never really like surprises. I wanted what I wanted – no extra frills please. Regardless, there was always a pleasant surprise. I remember shopping with dad when I was very young to pick up surprises for my mom when they were still together. He was a good sport and bankrolled the operation. He built a swingset for us in the backyard and helped with the kitchen magic. When Dad was around Christmas was more enjoyable.

I learned that being with family was the greatest gift. The Chatty Cathys and talking Mr. Ed puppets, and doctor kits and other stars of my childhood Christmases have long been put to rest. Time spent with my parents and family is the most valuable gift. Christ's gift of the promise of an eternal family is one of the kindest things he has done for me. No wonder the world still rejoices at the memory of His birth.
(This was probably at a Christmas bazaar at our church in Los Angeles
- it still makes me happy! Check out my cool plaid number.)


The Spirit of Christmas

The Christmas Spirit is real and lives with joyous omnipotence during the holiday season. Music, beauty, sharing, love, creative giving from the heart – isn’t that what Christ was all about?

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Giving Thanks


After months at sea in a small ship, a group of weary travelers, upon reaching the shores of North America, fell to their knees to give thanks. The Pilgrims at Cape Cod or Plymouth Rock in 1620?  No, Englishmen at the Berkeley Plantation, Virginia on December 4, 1619. Their orders included the giving of thanks upon arrival and on the anniversary every year from henceforth.

My ancestor, William Tracy, a governor of the Berkeley Colony, was so convinced of the potential of the early ventures into the colonies, that he invested heavily in them. Unfortunately, he died before he witnessed the amazing rise of "America."  And though some of the celebrants of the first "Thanksgiving" in Virginia were killed in the Indian Massacre in 1622, the Pilgrims in Massachusetts carried on the tradition of giving thanks. Times were hard; so many pilgrims died that first winter that they buried the dead at night so the Native Americans wouldn't know how few of them were left. Only 53 survived that first brutal year. The struggles of the Puritans, the conflicts with and help given by the Native Americans, and the culmination of efforts led to the brotherhood of that shared feast in the autumn of 1621.

Many historians agree that the first American Thanksgiving was inspired by ancient Israel's Feast of the Tabernacles, the celebration and gratitude for the harvest. Gratitude is a divine principle and is defined as: A feeling of thankful appreciation for favors or benefits received; warm appreciative response to kindness.

The power of gratitude can be life-changing. Studies on the health benefits of gratitude have shown an increase in energy in participants, improved sleep and other positive outcomes according to Robert Emmons of the University of California Davis, Michael E. McCullough of the University of Miami and Alexander Wood of the University of Manchester.

Hospitality binds individuals, families and communities in cheering and loving ways. Each of us has the potential to increase the positive energy in our community, world and the universe. As you gather your loved ones and give thanks for the good things in your lives, here are a few ideas to enhance your celebrations.

Blessings Centerpiece
Place branches with autumn leaves in mercury jars or vases surrounded by votive candles, acorn and pumpkins. Have guests write on paper tags things they are thankful for; tie onto branches. Or write on collected leaves with a thin permanent marker and scatter on the table.

Autumn Quilt
Cut 56 thirteen inch squares of autumn-color fabrics and sew together in eight rows of seven for a generous queen-size quilt. Add a thin batting, muslin for the backing, and add a simple border. Collect several varieties of leaves; trace on brown paper to make templates; lay the leaves on the quilt and outline in chalk. Stitch with embroidery floss in a contrasting color using a simple running stitch. Quilt around each block. This quilt can be used for a tablecloth or displayed from September through November.

A Coordinated Kitchen
As you plan your holiday menu, make a list of the foods and serving dishes. Plan your cooking and baking days and which foods may be made ahead and frozen or chilled.

Family Bingo
Create a family bingo game with copies of photos of family members. This is a good way for the children to learn about their ancestors. You may use vintage scrapbook paper and cardstock. This game uses candy corn for markers. Have the family pitch in by bringing plenty of small gifts and toys for prizes.

Gingerbread Houses
Make or buy gingerbread houses and assemble a few days before Thanksgiving. Have at least one per family to take home. After the dishes are done, let the decorating begin! Be sure to have lots of frosting and candy (buy on sale after Halloween) to decorate with.

Thanksgiving on Wednesday
Although President Abraham Lincoln officially made Thanksgiving Day the fourth Thursday in November, personal schedules might suggest celebrating on a different day. Having Thanksgiving dinner the evening before gives you the day to take children to the mountains, beach  or local historic sites the next day. Yummy leftovers make a great picnic.
Thanksgiving on the Beach
One year my clever mother and her friends packed up the feast, kids and grandparents and treated us to an authentic out-of-doors Thanksgiving on the beach at La Jolla in southern California. Yes it was cold and gray; but not as cold as the pilgrims experienced. It was an unforgettable holiday. With a little research you can find recipes and methods for a moveable feast.
Service Opportunities
One way to show gratitude is to share. During this time of year opportunities abound for helping the less fortunate. From serving dinner at homeless shelters, hospitals or retirement centers to gathering food for food banks and community kitchens; taking a pie to the fire department or police station or sending a treat box to military personnel and missionaries and other overseas volunteers. Look around your neighborhood to find people who would enjoy sharing a dinner with your family.

May you and your loved ones rejoice in the wondrous gifts you enjoy and thank the One who so generously bestows the blessings. Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Giving Thanks for Family Bingo

Grandma Roberts loved a good game of Bingo with her family.
She delighted in carefully choosing  gifts for the winners. She loved having her family around the table, playing, teasing and enjoying one another's company.
Grandma has "graduated" but we still like to honor her memory with a rousing game of Bingo. For Thanksgiving we use candy corn for markers, you can pick it up on sale after Halloween for cheap!


I haven't made up the new cards yet, but I'm designing them in my mind. I'm going to gather photos of past family members and create
a family bingo, to help our little ones learn the faces of the dear departed. I'll post them when they're finished. Now's a good time to pick up a few gifts while you are looking at Christmas stocking fillers. The dollar aisle at Michaels, Target and dollar stores are
good places to start. Also, ask relatives who are coming for Thanksgiving to bring prizes. My mom, uncles and aunts bring the best things!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Heritage Halloween and Welcome Family How!

My husband and I have Scottish ancestors;
the McMurtry and Holladay clans.
Sometimes for fun, we celebrate with a heritage theme.
My family and friends know I have a red plaid addiction.
I can't resist anything in a Stewart or Black Watch tartan 
For Halloween, I'll take a good black and orange plaid with no complaints.
This old-style, I mean really old-style party is
based on medieval celebrations from the Great Halls.

 I'd like to thank Family How for publishing my article:
and invite new readers to become friends and
followers by clicking the upper right tab.
 On my website you'll find recipes, fun ideas and inspiration. 

After you sign up, send me your email address and
I'll email you a free downloadable set of
 Halloween coloring pages:


Sunday, October 28, 2012

The Spiritual Origins of the Harvest and Halloween

The history of harvest celebrations is filled with contrasts; from the brightest joy to darkest depravity. Did you know that some scholars believe the American Pilgrims' Thanksgiving was based on Israel's Sukkot or Feast of the Tabernacles? Because many American and European traditions are based on Judeo-Christian customs, I'd like to share with you information about the roots of some of our autumn celebrations.
Sukkot was a joyous harvest celebration, it started around 1300 to 1400 B.C., when the Israelites left Egypt to return to their promised land of Canaan. This was long before the Catholic Hallomas or pagan Samhain.  In modern days, this holiday is celebrated between mid September and late October according to Sara Shendelman and Dr. Avram Davis: "Traditions: The Complete Book of Prayers, Rituals and Blessings For Every Jewish Home" ; Hyperion, N.Y., N.Y. 1998.  Autumn also marked the beginning of Israel's new year with Rosh Hashanah, the Day of Atonement. This national day of fasting culminated in the sacrifice of animals and a symbolic cleansing of the High Priest and Israel, teaching about the sacrifice of the Son of God for the cleansing of His people and reconciliation through Him, to God The Father.

God sent prophets to instruct and guide his children; Adam, Abraham, Moses and others. He covenanted with the Patriarch Abraham that through his family all the world would be blessed. God gives the rain, seasons, bountiful crops, music, laughter and happiness. He commanded Abraham's descendants in Moses' time to celebrate and have great joy. The Feast of the Tabernacles was instituted over three thousand years ago to give God's children a festive fall holiday wherein they could enjoy the bounty of the harvest. “Also in the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when ye have gathered in the fruits of the land, ye shall keep a feast unto the Lord seven days. “And ye shall take you on the first day the boughs of goodly trees ... and ye shall rejoice before the Lord your God seven days.” The Holy Bible, Old Testament; Leviticus 23:39–40.

Abraham’s family (Israel) was called to administer the priesthood - the power of God to bless the earth. Prophets counseled societies of God-fearing (respecting) men and women and gave commandments to live by: Thou shalt love the Lord thy God, love thy neighbor as thyself, do not commit adultery or murder or worship idols. Do not steal or bear false witness. They were to care for the poor and live in peace and harmony. Faith, repentance and baptism were the initiation into Christ’s church. As Israel kept the commandments, they prospered. When they didn’t they fell into bondage and suffered.

During Israel's forty years in the wilderness, The God Jehovah, commanded His prophet Moses to set up a tabernacle, a portable temple, in which the Spirit of God could dwell as Israel worshipped God and received revelations. This tabernacle was to be the House of the Lord until they were settled in the Promised Land and could build a permanent temple. The Feast of the Tabernacles was a remembrance of God's protection of the children of Israel during their forty years in the wilderness after escaping centuries of bondage in Egypt. It also was a celebration of the freedom to worship their God.  Sukkot also commemorated the harvest or in-gathering of the fruits of the year. This feast, considered the most joyful of all holidays, was celebrated for eight days.

The positive energy flowed; Israelites were under commandment to be grateful, happy, hospitable and set aside their worries.  They set up, decorated and lived in booths or tents as a reminder of their time in the wilderness. They hung bough from trees adorned with fruits of the harvest that were a reminder of the kindly protection given by their God. The spirits of ancestors and patriarchs were invited to be present. Israel gave thanks, enjoyed worship, feasts, sporting events and other merry-making activities.

From that time until the present, Israel looks forward to a day when "the King, the Lord of hosts" will reign on the earth and all men will live in peace and brotherhood. It was at this momentous time that Moses addressed Israel, Solomon dedicated the temple at Jerusalem and Jesus Christ declared, “I am the Light of the World." The biblical prophet Zechariah, in the Old Testament, foretold of a future day when the Feast of the Tabernacles would be celebrated by all men, or those that didn’t would be cursed.This may be a reference to the Millennial Era, a thousand years when God will reign personally on the earth and there will be peace and a united brotherhood.          

In modern times, decorations of squash, dried corn and autumn bounty adorn Sukkot celebrations. As celebrants share and enjoy the final days of autumn in the beautiful outdoors, they are grateful for the bounteous blessings they enjoy.
 People of faith who've studied the scriptures learned that in the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth. He created every living creature, including man.  "And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good... The Holy Bible, Old Testament; Genesis 1:31. How did evil come into the picture? Where do dark forces figure into our modern holiday of Halloween?

The Bible teaches that there was a war in heaven. One of His sons wanted God's honor and glory. Lucifer, "The Shining One," or "Son of the Morning" gathered followers who challenged the Father and were cast out according to the Holy Bible, Old Testament; Isaiah 14:12. Jehovah, " The Unchangeable One,"  God's eldest Son offered to teach and provide an atonement for God's children to allow them to be brought back to His presence after their time of testing on earth.

Jehovah provided the opportunity to live forever with God in a state of happiness.  He created the world to give God's children the opportunity to gain a physical body, be taught, tried and tested for obedience, integrity, virtue and other Godly traits.  The rebellious exiled spirits were allowed to inhabit the earth to provide the necessary opposition to good, giving mankind an alternative and test. These disembodied spirits were given power to tempt, but man was given the ability to choose and to triumph.  If all good things came from God, all bad things came from Lucifer or another title, Satan, "He who lies in wait." And thus, there is opposition in all things.

Physicists have identified opposing power or forces throughout the universe according to Physicist Brian Greene, author of The Elegant Universe; Vintage Books, A Division of Random House, Inc., New York, 1999. Blessings, healing and peace come from God; the kindness of neighbors, the love of family.  Anyone who had dealt with the crushing oppressions of child abuse, addictions, violence or betrayal has experienced the power of evil.

As soon as Heaven gives a reason for happiness, the adversary creates a perversion in opposition and that is where the story of Halloween begins. The word “Hallowe'en" comes from “All Hallows Eve," the night before “All Saints Day," a Catholic holiday on November 1st. All Saints Day honors all Christian saints. Originally celebrated in the spring, the holiday was moved to autumn by Pope Gregory in 830 A.D. in an effort to replace the pagan celebration of Samhain. On All Hallows’ Day, November 1st,Catholics prayed for the souls in heaven. On November 2, All Souls’ Day, they prayed for the souls in limbo. It was believed that more prayers would speed a soul’s journey to heaven. Poor people went door-to-door offering to pray for the dead in exchange for treats; soul cakes, in a practice called “going souling”, a forerunner of modern trick-or-treating.    

After God established order with peace and prosperity, Lucifer taught and tempted with his perverted doctrine. He started societies of pagans who broke God's Ten Commandments and practiced rituals that were in direct opposition to eternal laws.

Jesus taught love and brotherhood; pagans learned war and destruction. Israel had Sukkot, pagans in the British Isles celebrated the harvest and new year on November 1 with the festival of Samhain. Their recorded history begins around 500 B.C. The Romans eventually occupied most of the British Isles, but they didn't go into Ireland where local customs were left undisturbed and pagan civilization thrived. Pagan priests known as Druids were said to have ties to the "otherworld" and were second only to the king in prestige and power.

God instructed Israel to worship Him and follow His authority. He gave the priesthood and prophets to heal, bless and enable His children to do good in His behalf.  Pagans worshipped nature, they believed they possessed powers of sorcery and divination as describred in Time Life Books: What Life Was Like Among Druids and High Kings; Time Life Books, Alexandria, VA 1998. Legends tell of an entity in Ireland known as Lugh, "The Shining One, " who possessed many desirable attributes; he was handsome, brilliant and athletic, a warrior, musician and sorcerer.

 Cities throughout Europe were named for Lugh; Leon, Spain, Leignitz, Poland and Lyon (Lugdunum), France. Caesar compared him to Mercury, the Roman God of war. He helped his associates prepare for battles in which innumerable hosts of enemies were slain. Legends say he gave power to change the weather, brew drinks of forgetfulness and create invisibility cloaks. They performed cruel torture, head-hunting and other inhumane practices accordig to Miranda J.Green's The World of the Druids, Thames and Hudson Ltd., London, 1997. Whatever God gave as a commandment, Lugh taught the opposite. He taught idol and nature-worshipping practices, fertility rituals and human sacrifice, carnality, beastiality and seduction. The history of Ireland states Lugh became a co-ruler with kings until the Celts came to Ireland and drove him underground into the "otherworld." His pseudo “priests” were called Druids.
On the eve of Samhain, October 31st, the pagans were taught that spirits of the dead returned from the otherworld to roam the earth. These dangerous entities were thought to be repelled by the heat and light of fire. Druids and people dressed in masks lit fires to ward off the unwelcome visitors; an interesting contrast to Israel’s welcoming of their ancestors.

Records from Ireland also tell of bonfires (bonefires) where Druids made perverted sacrifices to appease nature. Animals and humans, many political enemies, were encapsulated in great woven effigies and burned alive.  Witches and Druids were spiritual and political consultants, the powers of evil reigned.  Ritual sacrifice victims have been unearthed in peat bogs. The bodies of men have been found bound, choked, throats slashed with remnants of grain and mistletoe pollen in their stomachs. Women were found bound and “pinned” alive in the bogs to drown. It was taught that human blood sacrifice was necessary to replenish the earth. There were also groves for ritual sacrifice and mating rituals. Couples would cohabit for a year, with or without marriage following. A cave in France contained the bones of women and horses, ritually dismembered with human skulls made into goblets. Evidence points to the fact that many of the pagans were no more than serial killers.

When the Romans conquered the British Isles, they ended the pagan practices. The Romans brought in their own celebration of Pomona, their Goddess of Harvest, which featured fortune telling, apples and nuts. The activity we know as bobbing for apples may have had its origin in the Roman festivals. The cruel Roman soldiers were disgusted by the bloody pagan rituals. And things did not end well for the pagans.  Lugdunum in France was abandoned after multiple natural disasters. as described  by Louis  Musset in  The Germanic Invasions, The Making of Europe 400 – 600 A.D., Presses Universitaires de France 1965. (Lyon, France's name comes from the old Lugdunum which means "Hill of Light," or “Hill of Lugh.") Other places were also sites of disproportionate disasters.

Madeleine Pellner Cosman describes in her delightful book Medieval Holidays and Festivals; Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, NY 1981; medieval European celebrations held in the fall that were similar to the festivities of Christmas and other major holidays. In great halls, bonfires, games and feasts were the highlights of the events. The story of St. George and the dragon was reenacted, banquets were enjoyed and stories shared. Centerpieces featuring faces carved into hollowed turnips or squash were lit with candles and placed on tables.

An indoor bonfire was recreated in the form of a candelabra ablaze with candlelight, reminiscent of the Feast of the Tabernacles. Because it was thought that the spirits were most powerful in the autumn, fortune telling was emphasized as people played games using nuts and apple peels to try to predict the future, a practice borrowed from the Romans. Selected partygoers would “go souling, " begging for shortbread cookies and fruit from specified hosts in extortion for not playing tricks on them. Bobbing for apples, with each apple assigned the name of a potential sweetheart, was then enjoyed. The party ended with a candlelight procession three times around the hall. At the end, the candles stayed lit to cheer the party-goers and scare away evil spirits.
Halloween was not widely observed in England or the other predominantly Protestant areas of western Europe, nor was it celebrated much in Colonial America. Apparently there were some commemorations in the south and in the Catholic colony of Maryland.  The English fall celebration was “Guy Fawkes Night" on November 5. Fawkes, a Catholic, weary of years of persecution of his and other non-Anglicans, lived in England in 1605. He and twelve other men created a plot to end government religious interference by blowing up the Houses of Parliament and King James as the leaders sat in session. The plot was discovered and Fawkes was executed. On the anniversary of his death, citizens of England had parades, bonfires and fireworks to commemorate his capture. The day was celebrated in the English colonies and some of the practices became part of Halloween in America. Soaping windows, removing gates from hinges and other minor acts of vandalism mimicked the actions of young English pranksters. Some of the inhabitants of the British Isles believed fairies, elves, leprechauns and witches came out at night on October 31st to create mischief. Folks dressed in scary masks and costumes to frighten away the unwelcome guests.

The people of rural Ireland brought their folk traditions and Halloween activities to America when they immigrated after the potato famine of the 1840’s.   Either the Scots or the Irish introduced the first jack-o-lanterns; hollowed turnips with carved faces illuminated with candles. Carved pumpkins became the American jack-o-lanterns of legend.  “Jack-of-the-lantern" was a  trickster. When he died he could not enter heaven, but the devil didn’t want him either. He was doomed to walk the earth with a burning ember from hell placed in a turnip lantern to light his way.           
In France, Halloween has not been celebrated until recently. In the autumn, the people celebrate "La Toussaint", All Saints' Day by honoring ancestors and heroes. They visit cemeteries, attend religious services and have get-togethers to enjoy harvest fruits and treats. In Mexico and Latin American countries celebrations center around "Dia De Los Muertos," or “The Day of the Dead,” November 2nd. Family members take sugar skulls and treats to cemeteries to be placed on graves with lighted candles to welcome ancestors back to earth. 

Religious people believe God created the earth and everything in it, and that in the beginning all was good. Later some creatures became associated with the forces of darkness. Perhaps because they were predators and hunted at night; black cats, bats and owls were considered omens of bad luck and were to be avoided. Spiders, toads and poisonous animals that have become traditional Halloween icons were also associated with witchcraft or evil. They were used as warnings to children to maintain cleanliness and behave.

 Autumn festivals heralded a time of thanksgiving for the blessings of the harvest. After Christ and most of the apostles died, the protection of the priesthood was gone from the earth. A Catholic priest, Dominic, approached the Pope to request permission to start a monastic order. The pope showed him the treasures the church had amassed and told him that Peter could no longer say "silver and gold have I none." To which Dominic replied, "Neither can He say, Rise and walk, "Christianity; The First Thousand Years, A & E.

People sought help and enlightenment by adopting man-made philosophies, charms and superstitions. They created activities and amulets they hoped would protect them from the forces of darkness and the mystery of the grave.  The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believes Christ restored the priesthood with His church in 1830 through a young prophet, Joseph Smith. He delegated the authority for baptism for the living and dead, as the Apostle Paul stated "Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? Why are they then baptized for the dead?" The Holy Bible, New Testament; 1 Corinthians 15:9

A gentleman of my acquaintance told me that his dying wife's final request was that she be baptized. As he considered how he might fulfill her desire, he remembered that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) performed proxy baptisms in behalf of the dead in their temples. The man asked the church to perform the baptism in behalf of his deceased wife.In folklore it's said that spirits or ghosts can't move on without the help of the living. Could  baptism, be what is needed for the dead to progress, or "move on?"  Family history consultants of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints can help people find their own kindred dead and submit their names for proxy baptism in Mormon temples if they wish.

After my younger brother died, I knew in my heart that we would not be separated forever. I have on special occasions felt the presence of beloved deceased family members and believe we have deep and poignant feelings about the eternal nature and welfare of our families and our souls. I also believe that through the sealing power of the Priesthood of God, that families may be united through eternity.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Soul Cakes - The Original Trick-or-Treat Treat

These tasty shortbread cookies were the original trick-or-treat treat. Long ago, Catholics believed that more prayers would hasten a soul's ascent to heaven. Poor people went from house to house offering to pray for the deceased, in return for Soul Cakes, in a practiced called "going souling."
They need no adornment but you may wish to frost them or use for cookie decorating for a party or carnival activity for children. Cut out with leaf, Halloween or round cookie cutters.
Preheat oven to 325°, cream together until fluffy: 
1/2 C butter, room temperature
1/3 C powdered sugar                             
1 tsp vanilla extract           
Set aside.  Sift together:              
1 C all-purpose flour
2 TBSP cornstarch
18 tsp salt
1/2 C chopped pecans (optional)
Work the flour mixture into the creamed mixture just until crumbly. Place dough between 2 sheets of plastic wrap and roll to 1/2 " thickness. Cut with cookie cutters, transfer to baking pan, sprinkle with coarse sugar if desired. Bake at 325° for 10-12 min. until edges are almost golden.
If you don't have time to bake, Walker's brand shortbread cookies are amazing!

Last-Minute Costumes!

Ideas for last-minute, economical or unique costumes - or all 3!
Would your man like to be Superman in disguise?
How about a party with a room full of superheroes in their alternate identity disguises? 
Or would your children like to go as their
favorite historical or literary figure?


Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Halloween Family Tree

Create a Halloween Family Tree!
1. Fill an urn, bucket or other container with dry florist foam or crumpled newspaper.
2. Push in dry branches and add a few leaves.
3. Copy Halloween photos, glue them onto scrapbook paper. Add brads and ribbon.
4. Hang photos on tree, add paper Halloween ornaments.

Andrew's Pumpkin Pie Cake

Andrew's Pumpkin Pie Cake
Andrew votes this rich dessert better than pumpkin pie!

    Preheat oven to 350°. From a box of yellow cake mix, remove   
    one cup of dry mix and set aside for topping. Combine remaining
    cake mix with

1 egg
1/2 C butter, melted

      Pat into bottom of a 9’ x 13" baking pan. Mix together:
4 eggs, slightly beaten
1 large can pumpkin
1 1/2 C sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
2 - 12 oz cans evaporated milk

     Pour over crust. Set aside. Mix together until the texture of    
     cornmeal, sprinkle over pumpkin filling

reserved 1 cup of cake mix
1/2 C sugar
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 C butter, softened
1 C chopped pecans (optional)

      Bake at 350° approximately 1 hour and 20 minutes or until   
      pumpkin is set. Serve warm

Pumpkin Spice Cocoa

Pumpkin Spice Cocoa Bar...
Make some steaming Stephen's brand Pumpkin Spice Cocoa;
offer Kraft Cinnamon Bun marshmallows, pumpkin cremes, caramels, butterscotch and fresh whipped cream. Mmmm

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Thank you Commander Mark

Here's a note from Emmy award-winning Commander Mark !

"Pam, I'm ordering your awesome book online...the cover is FANTASTIC by the way"

with a Post to FB

"Look at my Sisters AWESOME new book! Let's get her on the top 100! EVERYONE lets give her book a big push, let's ALL post her letter below to our FB pages and twitter?! Her Fall Harvest Halloween book is packed full of brilliant ideas...I've always known she was super clever and creative, and her book sure proves it! "

Have an astonishing day!
Mark Kistler

Please check out Mark's website - Now I wish I had been nicer to him when I was babysitting. What a guy!

Friday, October 12, 2012

It's Time to Party!

It's time...

for a party...

Looking for a treat?
A Harvest and Halloween Handbook
 is ready for you on
With scrumptious recipes, handmade decor,  clever costumes and lots of fun and games - you and your little pumpkins will enjoy the happiest Halloween ever!
Don't forget to invite your friends to join the fun.

If you don't have a kindle, you can download a free adapter for your computer on the and you can read kindle books on your ipad or other device with a kindle app. :D