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DECK THE HOLIDAY'S: 10/13/14

Monday, October 13, 2014

JACK O' LANTERN COOKIES!

   This recipe comes from http://www.diamondsfordessert.com .  These are really wonderful cookies.  Good luck!






Jack-o'-Lantern Cookies

Halloween is tomorrow! Which of course, means some Halloween baking. Since I always make something with pumpkin around this time of year, I decided to make some pumpkin cookies this year.








Every year, I always think about carving a Jack-o'-Lantern, but I never do. It's always either realizing I have nowhere to put it or being too lazy to clean up the mess that comes along with it. Well, this year, I came up with a solution to this desire to carve something: Jack-o'-Lantern cookies, carving cookies not pumpkins. It's entertaining and not too difficult to do. Plus pumpkin and chocolate just seem to go very well together. Overall, a fun and delicious fall activity.


















Jack-o-Lantern Cookies


Ingredients

2 1/2 cups flour

1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 stick butter, soft at room temp
1 cup canned pumpkin
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
semisweet chocolate (for decorating)


Directions
Mix dry ingredients: flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Set aside for now. In another bowl, cream sugar and butter together. Mix in the egg, followed by the vanilla extract. Add in the pumpkin and mix. Add in the dry ingredients and mix until a dough forms.

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Place dollops (of about 2 tbsp) of the sticky dough onto parchment lined baking sheets, there should be about 30 of them all together. Wet your fingers and smooth out the dollops of dough to form flat ovals (they will puff up while baking). Place the sheets in the oven and bake for 10-15 minutes, or until firm. Let cool on the sheets for 2 minutes, then move to a cooling rack.

Shaping Jack-o'-Lanterns
Use a knife to cut out faces on your cooled pumpkin cookies. Poke out the cutout portions and brush off any crumbs. At the top of each cookie, cut a small triangular wedge for the stem.

Melt some semisweet chocolate. Spread ovals of chocolate about the size of the cookies on a piece of parchment paper. Place a cookie on each chocolate oval. Use a spoon and place a dollop of chocolate at the top of each cookie where the wedge was cut out to form the stem. If the stem isn't tall enough at first, wait for the first layer of chocolate to dry and then add another layer on top. Let all the chocolate dry. Then carefully peel the cookies off the parchment paper.

Finally, take a spatula, or another utensil with a thicker edge, like the blunt edge of a butter knife, and use it to press out/score vertical lines on the cookies to make them more pumpkin-like.

Makes 28-32 cookies.



DIY PROP EYES FOR YOUR HOME HAUNT!

   This diy comes from www.thehauntingground.com .  These could be used in a skull or even a bunch of them in a jar.





Prop Eyez

Prop Eyez in use
Prop Eyez in a pair of Lindburg Skulls
Eyeballs can have a number of great uses in Halloween props. Giving eyes to some props like skulls and ground-breakers can add that “creep factor” that you just might be looking for. They can also be useful in any number of other props and decorations. A candy dish full of eyeballs for your Halloween party; a jar of eyes to adorn your witch’s arsenal of potion ingredients - the possibilities are aplenty. 
Real eyeballs are not so easily obtainable, and I’d imagine that the red tape one might have to cut through for a single pair would be far beyond the worth. I’d also be willing to bet that they would be pretty hard to work with, and likely wouldn’t last very long. With that in mind, I have discovered a budget friendly solution that will give your props that optical enhancement that they so deserve. Inspired by Easy Eyes from the Haunters Hangout website, I use a slightly different method to create my eyeballs. I’ve also created my own set of high detail printable irises (see link at bottom of page) for use with this method. In this tutorial, I’m going to share the process I use to create the eyeballs that I use in my props. 
To get started on this project, you will need the Following: 
  • 1″ wooden balls
  • White Acrylic hobby paint
  • Red Acrylic hobby paint (any dark red will work)
  • 1 sheet of Prop Eyez printable irises
  • Glue Stick
  • Modge Podge Gloss sealer
  • Scissors
  • 1/4″ broad tip hobby paintbrush
  • Fine tip hobby paintbrush
  • Drying rack (see below)
  • Electric drill w/ small drill bit (same size as posts on drying rack)
A handy tool for this project is the drying rack for the eyes. I made mine from two 4″ pieces of wire coat hanger and a small flat piece of scrap wood. Just drill two appropriately sized holes in the wood, cut two straight pieces of wire coat hanger and insert them in the holes. You will need to make sure that the drill bit is the same diameter as the coat hanger to ensure a tight fit. For the record, I used a thin wire hanger and a 47 gauge (0.0785″) drill bit. This will allow you work around the eyes completely without getting your fingers in the paint, and to set them aside to dry on your work surface. 
 With the drying rack ready, and all your supplies in place, it’s time to get started. The first step is to drill a small hole about halfway into each of the wooden balls. These holes will need to match the diameter of the coat hanger used on the drying rack. Once the holes are drilled, mount the balls on the rack. 
Paint each of the balls white. 2 or 3 light even coats will work much better than 1 heavy coat, and will probably take much less time to dry. 
Adding the red paintOnce the white paint is dry, you may choose to paint the backsides of the eyes red. If your eyes will be mounted in a prop where the backs will not be visible, you’ll probably want to skip this step. Using a piece of sponge, lightly drybrush the backs of the eyes with red paint about halfway around. The color should fade into the white gradually. 
Once your wooden balls are painted to your liking and dry, it’ll be time to add the Irises. Choose the desired color and pupil size from the printed Prop Eyez sheet and cut them out. When cutting out the iris, you should leave a small amount of white around the edge. This helps keep the iris’ shape and blends the color into the sclera (whites of the eye) more naturally. 
With the iris cut out, make a few (4-5) slits inward to the pupil around the iris. Don’t cut too far in, just cut to the edge of the pupil. This will help the printed iris mold over the rounded surface of the eye without rippling. 
Using a glue stick, apply a liberal coat of glue to the back of the printed iris, and press the iris into place. Then roll the eyeball (iris facing down) on a table or other smooth hard surface. That will help smooth out the printed iris and any thicker spots of glue underneath. 
Blood VesselsOnce the iris is in place on each of your eyeballs, you may choose to add some blood vessels to the Sclera. There are several ways of doing this, and any of them work well. I just paint them in with a fine tipped hobby brush. Some folks use tooth picks to drag lines from a droplet of paint, and others have said they use red Sweater lint. Do whatever works best for you, or use your imagination and come up with a new way. 
The final step is to seal everything up. Coat each eye with 2 coats of Modge Podge Gloss, and then another 2 coats of the Modge Podge Gloss thinned down a bit with water. The second two (thinned down) coats help make for a nice glassy finish, which gives them a wet, realistic look. 
Tip: For a hazy, dead look, try adding paint to your final modge podge mixture. On the last coat(s) of Modge Podge, mix a drop or two of acrylic hobby paint, in the color of the haze you want, into your thinned out Modge Podge. Pale yellow works well for a Jaundace look, gray or white for a dead haze. When doing a haze, a little bit of paint goes a long way, so mix sparingly and test it out before you put it on the eyes.
The completed eye
The completed eye.
That’s all there is to it. Once dry, you have yourself a nice, realistic set of eyeballs that can be added to any number of Halloween props and party ideas. 
Prop Eyez
Click image for the Prop Eyes printable iris sheet

HALLOWEEN AROUND THE WORLD, PART II!!




Japan-  In Japan O-Bon festival celebrates the memory of the dead relatives. Food and water is placed in front of photos of the dead. Bonfires and lanterns light the spirits' path back to earth.
   O-Bon celebrated by some people from July 13-15 and others from August 13-15, O-Bon gets its name from the Sanskrit word for "to hang upside down." It refers to a legend about a Buddhist monk who, deep in meditation, was able to "see" his long-dead mother hanging upside down in the Buddhist equivalent of hell. This was her punishment for having eaten meat during her lifetime - a Buddhist taboo - and refusing to repent of it. The monk was holy enough to go to hell and buy his mother's passage to Nirvana with some of his own excess goodness.




   On the first day of O-Bon, people decorate their loved ones' graves with fruit, cakes, and lanterns. On the second day, spirit altars or as they are referred to tamadana, are assembled at home: Atop a woven rush mat stand the ancestors' memorial plaques, tempting vegetarian dishes, and cucumbers carved to represent horses on which the spirits are invited to ride. On the third day, whole communities gather for the bon-odori, a hypnotic, slow dance that moves in concentric circles or multiple lines. Hundreds of people often dance together. As evening falls, tiny paper lanterns are set adrift on river or sea: these omiyage gently light the spirits way back to the "other shore".
   Buddhist Japanese remember their dead at the time in autumn of equal days and nights. The festival that is celebrated is called Higan. It is a time when people visit the graves of friends and family who are dead. They tidy up the area and think about the dead people.




Mexico-  In Mexico they have picnic lunches on the graves of their relatives. As this is a day of remembrance, happiness and celebration.
   They bake bread and make candy in the shape of skull and crossbones, a casket, or a skeleton.
   The children run through the streets with lanterns and ask for coins.
People light bonfires, set off firecrackers, and hang lanterns on trees to guide the souls of the dead home.
   In Mexico All Saints' Day is devoted to Los angelitos - that is, all the dead children. This is a prelude to November 2's Dia de los Muertos, Day of the Dead, a national holiday on which all the grown-up ghosts will be arriving in full force. The littler ghosts get a head start. To help them find their way back to the homes where they once lived, parents and still-living family members often shoot off firecrackers. In some parts of the country on this night they strew a path of flower petals from the graveyard to the front porch.
   Mexico's Dia de los Muertos Day of the Dead calls for happy all day picnics beside the graves of dead relatives. At home, people assemble little altars called ofrendas, stocked with the departed loved ones favorite foods and drinks, their photos, and other memories, as well as candles and pungent marigolds, a flower long associated with death.
   The Mexican custom of Erecting Day of the Dead altars has caught on north of the border, where the altars serve as the focus of ancestor rituals and memorials.
In Mexico October 27 is the Feast of the Holy Souls or Fiesta de las Santas Animas, families begin the fiesta by cleaning their relatives' graves and adorning them with pine needles and flowers. The families assemble a temporary altar near the gravesite, stocking the altars with candles and all kinds of foods such as meat, beans, chilies, salt, tortillas, fruit and sometimes alcohol. Each person in the family then takes turns in talking to the departed spirit, offering it the food and assuring it that it is loved. The ceremonies go on for several days, as every family has more than one grave to attend to.






United States-  In North America people believed that it was bad luck for a black cat to cross your path. It was believed that it was unlucky for a black cat to come into their homes or travel on their ships.
    In the United States trick-or-treaters are welcomed by placing lighted pumpkins known as jack-o'-lanterns in their windows.
   The North American tradition of trick or treat comes from the original idea that you must be kind to dead ancestors or they will play a trick on you.
   Neopagans of North America honor their ancestors on October 31. It was once believed that on this night any souls who had not yet passed into the paradise of the summer lands might return to wander the streets and visit their old homes once more.
   Neopagans celebrate the festival today as a turning point between the old and the new year, as well, the date of October 31 as the gateway between the worlds. Many neopagans believe that, on the eve of Samhain, the veil that separates each world that of the living and that of the dead is at its thinnest and that on this night, there is a better chance of being successful in communicating with their ancestors.




Philippines-  In the Philippines people light candles in the memory of their dead relatives.




Poland-  In Poland doors and windows are left open to welcome the spirits or the visiting souls.
   In Poland November 1 has become a public holiday.
   On All Saints' Day Catholics attend church services in honor of the saints, the martyrs and those who have died for the Catholic faith. People may also visit their family’s graves to beautify them with wreaths and small lanterns. Sometimes a mass is said at the gravesite and the grave sprinkled with holy water.
   On November 2 or All Souls' Day, Catholics attend a special Requiem masses, where they remember those who may be close to them that have died. Prayers for the dead are said and votive candles are lit to honor their memory.





Portugal-  In Portugal they have feasts of wine and chestnuts at the cemetery.
   In Portugal they bake special sugar cakes with cinnamon and herb flavoring.




Rome-  Parentalia the Roman holiday dedicated to honoring dead family began precisely at the sixth hour on the thirteenth day of February and lasted a full nine days thereafter. These dies parentales or in English parental days, were not a spooky time for the average Roman citizen. Rather, these were days of obligation and feasting, quiet and respectful, introspective, like a wake. During the Parentalia, all temples were closed, weddings were forbidden, and governmental magistrates uncharacteristically appeared in public devoid of the insignia of their office. People visited their parents' and other relatives' graves, bringing offerings such as milk, wine, honey, oil, and spring water. Some brought sacrificial blood from the bodies of black animals. They decked the graves with roses and violets. "Dining with the dead" at the grave site, the celebrant would offer the traditional greeting and farewell of the holiday: "Salve, sancte parens", "Hail, holy ancestor."
   The Vestal virgins, the priestesses who tended the goddess Vesta's shrine in the Forum, performed rites of their own at the Parentalia. The senior Vestal paid a ceremonial visit to the group's "parental" tomb - that of the early Vestal, Tarpeia.
On May 9 is the Lemuria a festival held to remove the more hungry ghosts or Lemures.






   The Lemuria is a festival held for homeowners to rid their homes of resident lemures. A celebrant would walk through the house barefoot at midnight walking from room to room with one hand upheld in the fig gesture, which is the thumb held between the second and third fingers. The celebrant’s mouth would be filled with dried black beans, which he would spit out one by one as he walked. The beans were used as ghost bait. As he walked he would spit one out and say the chant nine times: "With these I redeem myself and mine." The idea was that the lemures would be following him, eating the beans that had been spat out by the celebrant. While the celebrant was walking around with the ghosts following him people were not to look back during the ritual. Once the celebrant had come full circle, he would wash his hands thoroughly, then he would beat brass pans together, making as much noise as possible so as to bid the lemures good-bye.






   A festival held called Feralia is much like the Day of the Dead ceremony. The name feralia comes the verb ferre meaning to carry, or to ferry.
The Roman families would go to the ancestral graveyard, ferrying offerings. The reasons was that they believed the ghosts were hovering around the graves, so they take food to extinguish the pyres.
   Once the ancestors were honored and fed, comes the ceremony Caristia from the word Cara meaning dear. This was a holiday to re-affirm, a day of affectionate family reunions.
   All fighting was forbidden, old feuds would be forgotten, and sibling rivalries would have to be set aside.




Russia-  In Russia the blue cat is said to bring good luck. Blue cats such as Russian Blue, British Blue and Burmese.






Scotland-  In Scotland the children cut scary faces into hollowed-out turnips, large rutabagas, or potatoes and inside of them they place a candle inside.
   In Scotland they continued to practice their deep-rooted, ancient pagan rites well after the arrival of Christianity in the middle of the sixth century. The Church fathers had become concerned that the popularity of non-Christian festivals was growing at the expense of Christian holy days.
   During the ruling of the Popes, everything was the same as England and Ireland.
   In Scotland Soul Cakes were known as Dirge Loaves and were flat, round buns of oat flour.
   Scottish superstitions ran deeper and darker than most. In memory of the fact that Scotland had been the only country to burn to death its supposed witches, children in Aberdeenshire would run around their villages, banging on doors and shouting. This practice continued until the early twentieth century.






   Effigies of witches were burned on the Halloween bonfire. A dummy of an old woman called the shandy Dan was wheeled in a cart to the center of a large gathering of villagers and then tossed onto the fire with much celebration.
   Children once also enjoyed throwing cabbages and turnips at doors at Hallowe'en time.
   They also smashed bottles near windows.




Spain-  In Spain the black cat is considered to be bad luck, especially if you let it cross your path, come into your home or even onto your ship. In Spain also a special pastry known as the Bones of the Holy is eaten on this day.
   In Spain November 1 has become a public holiday. On All Saints' Day Catholics attend church services in honor of the saints, the martyrs and those who have died for the Catholic faith. People may also visit their family’s graves to beautify them with wreaths and small lanterns. Sometimes a mass is said at the gravesite and the grave sprinkled with holy water.
   On November 2 or All Souls' Day, Catholics attend a special Requiem masses, where they remember those who may be close to them that have died. Prayers for the dead are said and votive candles are lit to honor their memory.





   March 13-19 in Spain is Las Fallas which is in honor of St. Joseph whose feast day is on March 19. There are fireworks, bullfights, music, costumed revelers and parades. Giant models of people or papier-mâché effigies called ninots are stuffed with fireworks and burned.
   The bonfires and burning of effigies is done to "blazing away" the last vestiges of winter and welcoming the glow of the summer Sun.