Mystic Moon by rlc
The night is calling…

Calling us to have some fun!

We’re getting ready to have Halloween poetry judging party! Best of luck to all who have sent in their entries; the winner will be posted on November 1st.

I thought I’d share some of our party recipes with you. We’ll be snacking on crunchy, yummy, roasted pumpkin seeds and delicious Pumpkin Bisque soup. For cocktails we’ll have Bloody Mary and all her siblings (variations) or Apple Butter Cocktails.

First…a short video to get you in the mood!


Time to conjure up some treats!

Crunchy, Yummy, Pumpkin Seeds

Scoop out the seeds and rinse them in a strainer. They will feel a bit slimy and have little bits of pulp left on them but that’s okay, we’re going to soak them…

Fill a bowl with clean water and add enough salt to make it taste a bit like the ocean. Kosher salt is best. Soak your seeds for a couple of hours.

Place seeds back into the strainer, rinse, and set to dry on a clean towel.

Once seeds feel dry to the touch it is time to have fun—just toss with your choice of flavors and bake.

Here are some ideas but don’t stop here, get creative!

In a bowl, stir seeds with a little olive oil to help the seasonings stick. Sprinkle in one of these combinations:

Smoked paprika, cayenne pepper, and a bit more salt

Salt and pepper (maybe add a dash of your favorite hot sauce or a little chili powder)

Go Asian

Instead of olive oil you can substitute peanut oil and sprinkle in crushed seaweed and a bit of ground ginger (maybe add a bit of Szechuan seasoning or some Chinese five spices which is cinnamon, anise, fennel, cloves, ginger, licorice, peppercorn and white pepper)

Go Buttery

Substitute butter for the olive oil and sprinkle in salt or your favorite popcorn seasoning (maybe add some crushed garlic)

Go Sweet

Toss with butter (or honey), cinnamon and sugar

Spread your mixture on a baking sheet and bake at 300-325 until golden (about 15 minutes). Toss them a few times while cooking so they brown on both sides. They will be soft when they first come out and get crunchy as they cool. Try serving with a sprinkle of grated parmesan or a squeeze of lime!

I came across this recipe in the Mother Earth News magazine- Oct 2011 I haven’t tried it yet but it looks pretty tasty for those who like sweet drinks.

Apple Butter Cocktail

1 tsp cinnamon
1tbsp sugar
Simple syrup (simmer equal parts water and sugar until dissolved- in this case you will want the syrup to be chilled)
1 ounce hard cider
1 ounce butterscotch schnapps
½ to 1 ounce cinnamon schnapps
1 cinnamon stick for swizzling (optional)

Chill a martini glass
While waiting, mix the cinnamon and sugar together and pour into a saucer
Pour a little bit of simple syrup into another saucer (for coating the rim of the glass)
Pour the cider and schnapps into a shaker filled with ice. Do your bartending dance.
Coat the rim of your chilled glass with the simple syrup and the cinnamon/sugar, strain your cold cocktail into the glass and add the cinnamon stick.

Bloody Mary and her Siblings

You just can’t have a Halloween party without inviting Bloody Mary.

Here’s the classic Bloody Mary recipe. Serves 1
1 1/2 ounces vodka
1/2 cup tomato juice
1/2 fresh lemon- squeezed
a dash of Worcestershire
Tabasco to taste
Choice of garnish (traditionally a celery stick)
Salt & Pepper
Combine the vodka, the tomato juice, the lemon juice, the Worcestershire sauce, the Tabasco, salt, and pepper.
Pour into a shaker with ice and do your bartending dance.
Strain into a tall glass filled with ice cubes.
Garnish with a celery stick, thin carrot sticks, or a lemon wedge.
If you wish to make a pitcher full start with 4 cups of tomato juice and adjust ingredients accordingly.

Get crazy!

Bloody Mary comes from a BIG family—the combinations you can come up with are almost limitless. Here are some ideas:

To the traditional, try adding:

Prepared horseradish, garlic, or both!
A dash of your favorite hot sauce
Some juice from your favorite pickled peppers
Some juice from your jar of olives
Pressed garlic

Lime juice for the lemon juice
V8 or Clamato for straight tomato juice
Flavored vodka for plain
I even heard that some people substitute beer for the vodka…

Garnish with:
Just about anything—pickled veggies, jalapeños, peppercini, cherry tomato, etc…

Finally, here is a pumpkin soup recipe I came across today on Mélange: A Medley of Life. I’m copying it here but to get the full effect you should visit the website and view the pictures!

Pumpkin Bisque

6 – 8 cups Fresh pumpkin, cooked
2 Large leeks
1 cup Yellow onion, diced
3 – 4 Garlic cloves
Fresh ginger, 1-inch piece ground
1 cup Fresh carrots
1 pint Half-n-half or cream
Low-sodium chicken stock
1 ½ sticks Unsalted butter
3 – 4 Bay leaves
Salt and pepper to taste (at the very end)
1 teaspoon Nutmeg (or more)
Dash cayenne pepper or chili powder
½ to 1 cup Cooking sherry
1/8 to ¼ cup Flour (used to make a roux)
Crème fresh or low-fat sour cream

Scrape inside of pumpkin and peel. Cut pumpkin into cubes no more than 1 inch in size.
Chop carrots in ½ inch cubes.
Chop onions and leeks, making sure to thoroughly clean the leeks.
Melt butter. Sauté leeks and onions on high heat (about 2 min.)
Add sautéed onions to heated large soup pot.
Add carrots and toss 1 minute.
Add flour mixed as a roux. (Stephen didn’t tell me how he did this, but any cookbook should tell you)
Toss in pumpkin.
Add chopped garlic
Add cooking sherry: pour over mixture in pot.
Add chicken stock just until it covers pumpkin.
Bring the mixture to just barely a boil and then turn heat down to simmer.
Add bay leaves and cook uncovered about 35 minutes.
At the end of 35 minutes, take out the bay leaves. Puree the mixture in a blender. This will have to be done in small batches, probably three or four. Return to pot and on low heat add the cream slowly while stirring.
Grate the ginger and add to the mixture.
Add salt and pepper to taste.
Serve with a dollop of crème fresh or low-fat sour cream.
Garnish with parsley.

Have a Howling Good Halloween and a Merry Samhain

Share your secret potions…

Have a favorite Halloween Party recipe? Share in the comments box!

It’s gruesome at the end!

Our final entry is a tale of the macabre ritual taking place in nearly every home in America this very day. For anyone who thinks the sacrificial act is ancient history, the practice of heathens, I offer you Truth of My Demise by SA Lawrence.


Truth of My Demise

If you’re faint of heart, then I ask you not to read
As I vividly describe the horrors done to me
In retrospect I offer this brief soliloquy
In hopes that justice might make these hoodlums pay

On a cool brisk autumn morning with dew upon the ground
I sat alone meditating, the sun above me shining down
Off I heard a turtle dove cooing softly on the breeze
Not noticing the scoundrels stealthily sneaking behind me

They took me to a house of which I’d never seen before
And carried me around the back and through the kitchen door
They placed me on a table with newspapers all around
And shoved a knife inside me, there was no hope to be found

They shoved a spoon inside me and scrapped away the guts within
Then with an evil gleam they started cutting me again
As they continued, the horror suffered is painful to describe
The morbidity of this may make one feel queasy deep inside

They cut away my nose and left a morbid frightful mess
And as to what they started next was maniacal at best
The shoved the knife into my face and cut away the rest
They carved a gruesome smile while laughing and making jest

They set my hollowed carcass on the porch that night you see
And to add humility to it they placed a candle inside of me
They left me out there all night long in the damp and cold night air
Like a trophy from a conquest they left me sitting there

But these charlatans were not finished; no they weren’t done with me
The worst was yet to come when finally morning came to be
They carried me inside and on the kitchen table once again
Then like before, they took a knife and to my back they shoved it in

These Cretans took the pieces to an oven and put me in
Cooking down my body into a mush to use again
This travesty continued as they made some pies from me
And served me as desert for all their friends to see

There’s no evidence to offer, not a crumb of pie crust left
My seeds were washed and toasted and shared amongst their guest
From the field they took me, they’re plowed and seeded once again
And the remnants of my existence are but a memory now my friend

Jack O’Lanturn Postscript©
SA Lawrence
Copyright :: All Rights Reserved
Registered :: Tue Oct 18 19:13:32 UTC 2011
Title :: Epitaff of Murder
Category :: Poetry


Fingerprint :: a2bebbd30d60a13592fc3bb8f9c6354bc7848721630cd3c45a8de6569b5955e8

Is it just me or is this one calling to be put to music?

I think it might be over the word limit but I’ll leave that for the judges to decide. For me, it provides a perfect lead in for the recipes we’ll be posting later today:)

There’s still time to comment/vote for your favorite entry…


This one has so much imagery I had trouble deciding on a picture!

Hallow Weeny(s)

Bats from the belfry
Swinging from the eaves
Overlooks skullduggery
And spiders in the leaves

Exposed skulls…very scary
And goblins giving fright
Gathering darkness very eerie
Enveloping this sordid sight

Moonlight bright and silvery
Cleaves the blackening night
Forcing a change of scenery
And flushing out the fright

The black witch of sorcery
Mounting her speedy broom
Knows that the weeny(s)
Will soon depart the gloom

–H. Weeny, H.W.C.,B.S.A

The pendulum sways, counting down the hours to the end…of the contest.

Don’t play dead, rise up to our invitation–we dare you to enter! Winner takes the jewels. You have until midnight Saturday.

For our fifth entry we have a beautiful seasonal poem by J. C. Nierad.

Until October

Nearly all year
the beige brick house
is ignored
until October.

When the tenth month taps,
Thick, yellow acrylics
paint the Cottonwood
quietly living at
the beige brick house.

Nearly all October,
Evelyn dances daily in the yard.
Silver hair swaying underneath straw brim.
Dark jeans, rose gloves
hint at humanity mingling with
glowing, golden forces.

The waltz begins at the corner,
circling popping leaves.
Step, rake, step. Step, rake, step.
Gracefully flowing into the street.
Responsibly honoring the tree’s fleeting fame.

Gliding around the goddessAutumn Cottonwood Tree by Lulu Brymer
nearly all October
until the branches bare
their beige
winter souls.

J.C. Nierad

image courtesy of LuLu Brymer

visit her portfolio at FineArtAmerica[dot]com

Autumn splendor, childhood memories, monsters lurking…I love the different themes being sent in! There are just a few days remaining in our Autumn Poetry and Children’s Verse Contest, deadline is October 29th, so key in your verse and send your entry to PonderAutumnPoems[at] Prize is a pair of sparkly earrings–details and picture of prize posted on our October 15th post. Winner will be announced on All Soul’s Day, November 1st.

Need Snacks? I’ll be posting a few recipes later this week!

Here is our fourth entry (and we have four days to go). Today Marcia gets creative with her nod to gothic romance!

            Shiver and Ugh

I read some books about vampires
a girl fell in love with one
But I confess I felt some ire
When she said she would be one.

I never saw a vampire tooth
I never want to see oneVampire Teeth by Dawn at DragoArt
But I can tell you this right now
I’d rather see than— feeeeel one.

Marcia Dahlinghaus

image courtesy of DragoArt


And now…

A note from our sponsors:

Come all you ghouls

The good and the creepy

and write me a line

that’s just a bit freaky

A Jack-O who hums

A raven in flight

Or children who knock

on your door

for a fright

Our contest will end

Four moons from today

And all of this fun

will just fade


by Robyn C.


If I can write one so can you!

Up to 100 words on anything Autumn/Halloween/Samhain/Harvest–either a poem or children’s verse. Last day is Oct 29th. Prize is a pair of earrings. Details below on the October 15th post.

Here’s a fun entry that will take you back to childhood!


Smiling Pumpkin
by Carole Mertz

My Papa he poked out the eyes,  Jolly Pumpkin by rlc
And Mama the smile very wide.
When I got the handle
I dropped in the candle,
And carved a triangular nose


Thank you, Carole, for bringing us a smile!

Please leave your votes/comments for Carole’s entry.

Join in the fun by sending in your own poem or verse! Deadline is October 29th; details below on the October 15th post.

Virginia Cemetary at NightHalloween is fast approaching and with it would-be ghost hunters are on the prowl. It is said that upwards of 70% of all Americans believe in the paranormal, in fact, according to a Gallup Poll taken in 2005 three out of 4 people believe in the paranormal and I am tempted to bet that the number has increased since then. The popularity of shows such as John Edward, TAPS, The Ghost Whisperer and The Sixth Sense dragged what was once considered taboo right out of the closet and into everyday conversation.

If your only knowledge of the paranormal has been via John Edward or The Ghost Whisperer listen up—when uninvited guests go bump in the night they are usually nowhere near ready to cross over.  In fact, they may not be confused dead people at all—they may be disembodied ne’er doers.

If they aren’t your long-lost Aunt Pearl and Uncle Charlie then who are they and why are they bothering you? First, it helps to begin referring to “them” as “energies” and not “spirits”. Energy is all around us. It is measurable on a scale and just as there is light and dark there is positive and negative. Think vibes—some places and people have good vibes, some bad. Just as people want to socialize with like-minded people, energy seeks a similar frequency (or one it can feed from) and builds.

Now, some people think it would be cool to live in a haunted house. Some people who do live in haunted places try to make do by telling themselves they are with “extended family”. But when the “others” begin influencing loved one’s behaviors, frightening children or being physically abusive it can turn bad quickly.

The next several posts will look at what attracts these energies or entities and how to get rid of them. I will share my own experiences and you can share yours. I will point the way towards some sources and experts, explain how to have a vibrationally healthy house. My aim is to give you enough information that you can recognize a problem and deal with it coming from a place of confidence and clarity.

Do you have a question, comment or story to share? Share a story and you may be chosen to win a prize! See the October Chills post for details.

Moon in Clouds 2010-RCShrieks and Thrills and October Chills

Meet us at the door

The Moon holds Sway

Over Mind’s own Play

And the Raven creeks,


RC 2010

The house next door to us has been vacant for awhile now. I’ve become accustomed to not having to worry about closing the blinds at night even if I happen to be wearing…well,not much.

As I was passing through the living room a few nights ago I caught a glimpse of someone walking down the pathway on the side of our house. Startled, I jumped back behind a doorway because this was one of those times I was wearing “not much”.

My partner, noticing my odd behavior, gave me a quizzical look. I mentioned that I saw someone in our yard. I went on to describe a short statured male with light-colored hair. 

“Sigh, I was hoping you wouldn’t notice,” he said. “There’s been a traveler checking out the place next door for the past week or so; I just haven’t had the energy to deal with him yet.”

I knew then that he had understood—we weren’t talking about a person.

Do you have an unsettling story to share…something spooky? Perhaps you have a favorite Halloween memory… Share your story with us!

On October 31st a random winner will be chosen to receive a handmade, autumn themed decoration.

Winner to be chosen using Random.Org.

The breeze tonight is soft and cool.  In the distance the fires burn, filling the air with the sweet scent of Oak, Ash and straw.  The light from the fires mingle with the last rays of sunlight.  Twilight rises as I set off down the road, towards the fires at the edge of the village.

 A pleasant sensation begins to move through my body, then I hear it; ’tis the drumming and chanting of The Old Songs. I quicken pace for the celebration’s begun.  Tonight’s to be a night of merry.  There’s to be dancing and food and drink ‘til n’er morn.  Torches are to be lit from the fires and carried into the homes for the hearths.  Bread and ale are to be placed on the tables to welcome our visitors. Tonight the veils are parted and for one night our loved ones will come home.

 Today we know this night as Halloween or All Hallows Eve or All Souls Eve; a night for the child in all of us to dress in costume, party and scare the wits out of ourselves and others. What is now a night of haunted houses, bloodshed and candy (a strange combination), began as a night of honoring loved-ones past.  Although The Festival of the Dead is known by many names in many cultures the beliefs and ritual run similar threads around the world.  If you share a bit of that chocolate bar with me I’ll take you on a two-penny tour.

 Our first stop is the Celtic holiday of Samhain (pronounced SOW-en).  Celebrated at the end of the harvest season, Samhain is the night of the year when the veils between the worlds are the thinnest.  Like many cultures the Celts believe quite literally in life-everlasting.  For them, death is not an ending; it is merely a door into the next reality.  The other world is a mirror image of this one and life continues in much the same way. 

 This view of the afterlife is much like that of the Egyptians who celebrate The Beautiful Feast of the Valley, Sunset Ceremony or The Festival of Wag (or Wagy).  Beginning at the Nile, a parade of acrobats and musicians lead a procession to the tombs where food and drink are offered to the departed.  Acrobatics aside, for parades of art and mysterious ritual New Orleans and Africa top the charts.

 Under the belief that restless spirits may come back to cause mischief, in New Orleans these processions include people disguised as departed spirits.  This “guising” is meant to confuse the spirits and is at the roots of our present day custom to dress up as ghosts and skeletons. Hey, why should the spirits have all the fun? In Peru and Mexico we know this as El Dia de los Muertos, All Souls Day; Touissant to the French; Velja Noc in Old Slavic; Genesia in Old Greek.

 In Africa during the Egungun Festival, the guising takes on a new meaning.  This festival honors ancestors with drumming, chanting and prayer. Individuals offer their services to families by donning the garb and thereby taking on the persona of a departed loved one.  The purpose is to assist in transmuting the prayers to that soul.  In Haiti a similar festival is called Fet Gede. 

 The festivals change slightly when we enter Asian lands. On the one hand we have Zhonguan Jie or Happy Celebration, a time to honor the ancestors.  On the other hand we have Ullamban or Chinese Halloween. 

 In Chinese culture the departed have a journey ahead of them and if they have not been properly sent off they can not complete their journey.  At the Chinese Ghost Festival, or in Thailand, Pee Ta Khon, the gates to the world of the dead are opened.  This is a time of Hungry Ghosts.  Souls who have not received proper tribute wander looking for food and supplies which are offered up to them by the burning of joss paper. (Lisa See does a wonderful job of allowing us to experience being a Hungry Ghost in her novel, Peony in Love, Random House Publishing, 2007).

 Festivities take on a lighter air at the Japanese O-bon festival, a happy time of family reunion.  This is a time to clean and care for gravesites and honor the ancestors.  In Vietnam the festival is called Te Trung Nguyen and in Beijing we have Qingming Jie or Clear Brightness.

 Observed in April, Clear Brightness actually began as a fertility festival much like the Celtic Beltane.  Since the dead were believed to be responsible for the fertility of the fields and prosperity of the home it was considered a good idea to keep them happy, therefore gravesites were cleaned and picnics held at graveside.  Over time the focus of this celebration shifted from a day of fertility and prosperity to a day of remembrance.

 In some cultures, such as certain Native American communities, this day of remembrance is not observed.  In these traditions the ancestors are honored with every prayer.  For most of us, however, our lives become overly hectic with our attention forever focused on what we need to do next.  Perhaps, for us, setting aside one day each year for the remembrance of loved ones past would be a healthy tradition to revive; for it is as much to honor our own heart as it is to honor their memory.

 There are many simple ways to make space in our lives for those who have parted.  Simply wearing Grandma’s necklace or making one of her recipes for dinner can open up conversations with the children, opening up a time to share all those special memories. Updating the family photo albums with notations and stories about the pictures is another way to honor our loved ones.  This is a project I’m currently planning with my eighty-one year old mother; she’s the only one who knows all those people and the pictures usually prompt a good tale. 

For your listening pleasure    – Loreena McKennitt –  All Soul’s Night

Leave a comment to share how your family remembers their ancestors or any other thoughts you may have.

See Prompt Page for accompanying writing prompt.

 Next Time:  A true-life ghost story.  I’ll post it on the 30th….