Tips, Tricks, and Little Known Halloween Facts…

Hey kids, it’s been quite a while since I did a whole big resource post but Halloween is always a fun  holiday,  so let the tips and tricks begin.

The facts

  • Halloween has its origins in Celtic, Wiccan and even Catholic traditions and celebrations. Most of which were meant to celebrate the end of the growing season, the coming of winters and the thin line between the living and the dead.
  • The celebration was a blend of All Saints Day, the Celtic celebration of Samhain, and the Roman festival Feralia.
  • The custom of putting lights in carved vegetables came from the pre-Christian Druids in northern Celtic lands. Before and during Druidic ceremonies practitioners hung a carved and lighted turnip around their necks as a “spirit guide” to get them safely through the dangerous procedures, which sometimes included human sacrifice.
  • By the 19th century, most of the religious aspects of the Halloween celebration were gone and became mostly a secular holiday that was more about dressing up in costume for fun and entertainment than confusing the dead and warding off spirits.
  • The tradition of ‘trick or treating’ in America is believed to have originated with Irish immigrants who brought with them the Halloween tradition of going door to door looking for sweets and other treats.
  • Many believed (perhaps still do) that Halloween is a pagan celebration of witchcraft. Among the traditions that seemed ‘witch like’ are –
    • Young women could determine her future spouse by staring into a mirror in a darkened room or by peeling an apple in one long strip and then casting the peel over her shoulder.
    • Baking small coins, trinkets, and a single, plain ring into a type of fruit cake that would be shared among the neighbors. If you got a trinket in your piece – that was your fate for the coming year, with the person who got the ring destined to wed.
  • Some Christian faiths still maintain that Halloween encourages witchcraft and hold “Hell Houses” meant to scare children and young adults away from the traditions and to lead them back to the church. Some even go so far as to hand out pamphlets on Halloween night to be found when kids go through their candy.

Halloween Safety Tips

Costumes:

Dressing up in costume is one of the more fun aspects of the holidays but some costumes can be problematic. The following tips might help prevent costume malfunction:

  1. With kids’ costumes you want to avoid choking hazards. Look over the outfit and accessories for anything that can be pried off or favored as a teething toy for a baby. Details such as buttons, beads, sequins, or other baubles meant to be decorations may need to be removed or given a couple extra stitches to ensure they remain intact.
  2. Make sure costumes don’t obstruct your view, including peripheral vision.
  3. Dragging hemlines can cause tripping and be caught in machinery, fences, gates and car doors. Hem costumes so your child won’t trip herself or others.
  4. Also check tags to see what kind of fabric is used. You or your child may have an allergic reaction to synthetic fabrics, or they may cause chafing if fabric is rough and your child does a significant amount of walking in it.
  5. Always ensure that the fabric of your costume is proofed against catching fire.
Trick-or-Treating:
  1. Make sure youngsters have flashlights and/or some sort of reflective tape adhered to their costume when going door to door.
  2. Make sure they are wearing appropriate footwear for walking and weather conditions.
  3. Organize it so that children travel in groups, and have a buddy system in place. Do not move from one house to the next until all kids are accounted for.
  4. Be extra careful crossing the streets, though drivers may be trying to be careful the streets will have more than usual foot traffic and accidents still happen.
  5. If you are driving on Halloween during trick or treating hours, be extra vigilant and keep your eyes on the road. If you need to break up an argument between your kids over whose candy is whose, pull over and work it out rather than looking away from the road.
  6. Never let the kids consume any of the candy from their bags until an inspection has been done. Check to ensure that wrappers and packaging is still sealed properly, wash and cut fruit such as apples before consumption, and check baked good as well. If you are in doubt about any item it is better to throw it away than take a chance.

 Halloween Recipes

Meringue bones and skulls

Easy roasted pumkin seed recipe

Watch this vid to see how to make “dirt pudding”

Halloween Laughs

If you’re in the mood for something punny – check this site for some groan worthy jokes

Halloween Games

Need some games for your Halloween party?

And if you happen to be staying home tonight with no particular plans, check out this movie trailer. Who knew Helen Mirren could be so scary? LOL!

Have a ghoulish good Halloween and don’t forget to save me some candy. Caramels and Hershey’s Chocolate, please. 😉

Annie  

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HAPPY LABOR DAY – LET’S HAVE A PICNIC..OR SOMETHING…

It’s sad I suppose that summer is on its way out and well Labor Day is the punctuation mark that heralds the end of the season.

Did you know that in a galaxy long ago and far far away that there was this rule that you mustn’t wear white after Labor Day?

So what’s on the menu for your Labor Day picnic – fried chicken, two maybe three kinds of potato salad, sandwiches and lemonade? In that case, these recipes are sure to please.

And don’t forget the cocktails

If  you’re planning to stay home and do some serious binge watching on Netflix or Amazon Prime, check out Ray Donovan, Bosch, Luther, Gilmore Girls Reboot, House of Cards, The Man in the High Castle, all the Star Trek iterations and more…

If you want to get out and about and live in the L.A. area check out the top weekend events, fairs, festivals, fun in the sun and lots of eats

Or just stay home in your jim-jams and read a good mystery

Whatever you plan to do or not do as the case may be – be well, be happy, and be safe.

And say a little prayer for our firefighters out here in CA, presently working 24/7 to knock down the La Tuna Canyon fires – and our friends struggling with the havoc of Hurricane Harvey.

 

Annie

Favorite Irish Sayings, St Paddy’s Day Traditions & Corned Beef

Happy St. Paddy’s Day everybody. I love this day because I love green, I love fun, I really love beer and it’s also my birthday. But in case you aren’t Irish, then I have a quick crash-course, that Faith and Begorrah, will convince everybody you are.

Irish phrases you should know

Kiss my ass!

Spelled: Póg mo thóin!

Pronounced: pogue muh ho-in

Cheers!

Spelled: Sláinte

Pronounced: slaan-cheh

Ireland Forever

Spelled: Éirinn go Brách

Pronounced: Air-in guh braack

May the cat eat you and the devil eat the cat

Spelled: Go n-ithe an cat thú is go n-ithe an diabhal an cat

Pronounced: guh nee-ha on cat hoo iss go nee-ha on jeowel on cat

Saint Patrick’s Day

Spelled: Lá ‘le Pádraig

Pronounced: laa-AY-la pawd-rik/

A pint of Guinness, please.

Spelled: Pionta Guinness, le do thoil

Pronounced:  pyunta Guinness leh duh hull/

Kiss me, I’m Irish!

Spelled: Tabhair póg dom, táim Éireannach

Pronounced: TOO-irr pogue dum, toyme AY-ron-ock

Are you drunk yet?

Spelled: An bhfuil tú ar meisce fós?

Pronounced: on will too air mesh-ka fowss?/

St. Patrick’s Day blessing upon you

Spelled: Beannachtaí na Féile Pádraig oraibh!

Pronounced: ban-ock-tee na fay-lah paw-rig ur-iv/

Common Traditions on St. Paddy’s Day

The wearing of the green. On St. Paddy’s Day you better wear something green if you want to avoid being pinched. In Ireland people wear a small bunch of Shamrocks on their right breast to signify their Irishness. The Shamrocks are blessed at Church ceremonies and known as Blessing of the Shamrock. If you don’t have access to blessed shamrocks, a green hat will do.

Green Beer and Shamrock Shakes. If  you were to spend St. Paddy’s Day in Ireland you’d be hardput to find a mug of green beer or a Shamrock Shake. This is a rookie mistake and started as a tradition in America. However, if you can eat 10 pickled eggs, you could be mistaken for a real Irisher.

Parades and Festivals. The very first St Patrick’s Day parade occurred in New York City in 1766. And though there were many parades to follow all over the world, it wasn’t until 1995 that the Irish government decided to start holding a parade in Dublin—it’s known as St Patrick’s festival and takes place over 5 days with events including art shows, plays, concerts, fun fairs and the main parade.

Have you worked up an appetite yet?

No St. Patrick’s Day would be complete without partaking in some scrumptious corned beef and cabbage. And though traditionally, Irish Corned Beef and Cabbage is a boiled dish, I prefer mine slow roasted.

Try this simple recipe and tell me I’m wrong. And don’t forget to save me some.

Ingredients:

1 (5 1/2 pound) corned beef brisket with spice packet

2 whole head of green cabbage, each quartered

7 large red potatoes, peeled and diced

8 carrots, peeled and diced

2 medium onion, quartered

Directions

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Place the brisket in the center of a roasting pan. Arrange the cabbage, potatoes, carrots and onions around the sides. Empty the seasoning packet over the roast, and pour enough water into the pan to about ½ inch high. Cover with a lid or heavy aluminum foil. Roast for 5 to 6 hours in the preheated oven, until the roast is fork tender.

Have a great day and may the green be with you.

Remembering our Fallen

Memorial Day is often thought of as just another three-day weekend, a chance for barbecues, awesome sales or even a day at the beach. I like all of those things too and will probably participate in some of them this weekend. But I also like to take some time to reflect on the hundreds of thousands of men and women who  gave their lives so that we can enjoy our freedoms. Please pray for our fallen and their families.

 

Ten tips to prepare you for Cyber Monday

cyber monday

Okay. So, you’ve had Thanksgiving, Black Monday, Small Biz Saturday and Sunday you got to rest. Next up, Cyber Monday. The online answer to Black Friday (I think) or maybe just a another way of saying Holiday Sale. At any rate, the following tips will help you enjoy Cyber Monday.

1. Call in sick. You’ve already been off work for four days, what’s one more?
2. Make a list of everything you’ve been wanting to get yourself just in case you see some incredible deals. Freelancers, this is a great time to do end of year purchases for equipment, software, office furniture and supplies.
3. Have your Christmas list handy. You may not get everything on your list but having a list will (hopefully) prevent you from buying stuff you dont need.
4. If you’re searching for a specific item and Googling, include ‘free shipping’ in your search terms. This is the time of year that free shipping is a big come on used by retailers. Why shouldn’t you get some of that. Just a cursory search showed me that Harry & David, Best Buy & the Cracker Barrel are all offering free shipping deals.
5. Use PayPal. I suppose there are different schools of thought on this but I personally feel safer using PayPal – you’re not debited until the product ships and they have a no hassle reversal policy if the product is funky. Credit card scammers are out in force this time of year too.
6. Don’t buy things just because they’re a good deal. Of course, logical right? But once you get your bargain hunter buzz on, things can get out of control fast. That’s why #2 and #3 are on the list.
7. Take a break. Or give yourself a time limit. If you stay online all day shopping you will undoubtedly buy things you really don’t need or want, or God forbid, click on the wrong thing. Give yourself a 3 or 4 hour limit, then stop. If you can’t because you want to do all your shopping today, then take a break every hour. Step away from the computer, go outside, take a walk and for heaven’s sake eat something besides cheese doodles. And drink water too.
8. Shop in categories. Divide your list into categories – electronics, clothes, sundries, toys, etc. Then shop by category. It might require going back to a couple of sites but, this will also help to keep things organized and prevent you from being distracted by shiny objects.
9. Consider refurbished, used, vintage, consignment. We often feel that giving others things that were previously used might be tacky but usually if a person wants something and gets what they want, they don’t generally care about that stuff. There are some incredible computer deals on refurbished computers for example. And what fashionista wouldn’t want a vintage handbag that was the real deal? What writer wouldn’t want an original copy of a favorite book?
10. Consider smaller sites and retailers. There are thousands of small artisans and retailers on sites like Etsy and Zazzle for example, who make some very awesome, one of a kind items. And it’s also a cool way to support small businesses, indies and freelancers. For example, this hard working creative gal is offering some very cute tees for writers. Myster Writer Clued In

cover coffee and crime thumbnail

 

And in honor of Cyber Monday (starting at 8 AM Pacific Time), I’m offering Coffee & Crime for 99 cents (Kindle Countdown). Tuesday it goes up to $1.99, Wednesday it goes up to $2.99 and then returns to the normal price on Thursday.

Okay, so go to bed early, lay out your clean jammies for tomorrow and set the coffee pot on brew. And happy shopping. Let the season begin!

Have a great week.

Annie

Happy Turkey Day and it’s been a turkey of a day

turkey day

I hope we’re all having a nice day with way too much food and never enough family and friends around us.

That said, I woke up this morning to a computer that said it would not comply with my wishes to work. After trying to coax it and a lot of begging and pleading, I dragged my old PC out of the closet and am using that. Can you say flash to the past? I forgot how slow the thing was. Oy. Computer fixer upper coming Monday.

In the meantime, I’m chiseling my words on stone tablet with sharp stick. Gotta watch the splinters.

Have a great holiday everybody.

Annie

Fourth of July Facts, Fun and Trivia

I love the 4th of July because of what it represents and also because I never met a barbecue I didn’t like. Nothing like liberty and ribs to get your engines revving, right?

“When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.–Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world…”

Following are some fun, interesting and possibly silly facts about the day of our independence:

The Declaration of Independence was adopted by Congress on July 2, 1776 but a revised version was not adopted until July 4th. In a letter to his wife Abigail, John Adams, who first proposed the idea of declaring independence from England, said he believed July 2nd would be a day remembered and celebrated in America for years to come.

The Declaration was written by Thomas Jefferson and signed by 56 men representing 13 colonies. Thomas Jefferson drafted the Declaration on a “laptop,” which was a writing desk that could fit on one’s lap.

The first ever July 4th celebration was in 1777, in Philadelphia which included a parade, a thirteen-shot cannon salute and fireworks. The first 4th of July party held at the White House, was in 1801 and held by President Thomas Jefferson. The oldest, continuous Independence Day celebration in the United States is the 4th of July Parade in Bristol, Rhode Island; it began in 1785.

The 13 stars on the American flag were arranged in a circle to represent equality among the original thirteen colonies. In all, there have been 28 versions of the U.S flag to date. The most recent was designed in 1958 when Alaska and Hawaii joined the union. Robert Heft 17 year-old high school student came up with the flag design as a result of a school project. He received a B- on the project, but when his pattern won the national competition to become the next U.S. flag, his grade was raised to an A.

Fireworks and parades to celebrate the Fourth has been around much longer than you may think – in that letter John Adams wrote to his wife Abigail he also said that the day “Ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more.” In fact, colonists celebrated their independence before they knew they’d win the war. In addition to celebrating the Declaration it was believed that fireworks displays were used as morale boosters for soldiers in the Revolutionary War.

The Pennsylvania Evening Post was the first newspaper to print the Declaration of Independence. Approximately 900 copies of the Declaration were printed by printer John Dunlap. These are referred to as “The Dunlap Broadsides” of which only 26 copies exist today.

The song “Yankee Doodle” was originally sung by British military officers prior to the Revolution as a means to mock the disorganized American colonists who fought alongside them during the French and Indian Wars.

Presidents John Adams, Thomas Jefferson and James Monroe, died on July 4th; Adams and Jefferson died within hours of each other in 1826 while Monroe died in 1831.

The “Star Spangled Banner” was written by Francis Scott Key during the War of 1812 and not decreed the official national anthem until 1931.

Two of our nation’s national symbols were made overseas. The Liberty Bell was cast in England, and the Statue of Liberty in France. To avoid cracking it, the Liberty Bell has not been rung since 1846 – though every 4th of July it is symbolically tapped 13 times.

While Ben Franklin wanted the wild turkey to be the national bird, he was out-voted by John Adams and Thomas Jefferson who chose the bald eagle as the national bird.•

Americans eat approximately 155 million hot dogs on Independence Day while watching approximately 14,000 professional firework displays light up the skies in the United States each 4th of July.

4th Of July Humor

What did one flag say to the other flag?

Nothing, it just waved!

What’s the difference between a duck and George Washington?

One has a bill on his face, and the other has his face on a bill.

What would you get if you crossed a patriot with a small curly-haired dog?

Yankee Poodle

What was George Washington’s favorite tree?

The infantry.

For simple 4th of July amusement you can check out this puzzle and this puzzle.
And to test your knowledge of American independence take a quiz here.

Have a safe and happy Fourth of July everybody – and say a prayer for our troops and their families.

WC