Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Phantom Ghost #2

Last week for family night we played the Phantom Ghost, which I posted about already.  What I forgot to do was to hang a ghost on our own window, to keep people from spooking us!  So one day I found this note and a Halloween treat on our doorstep.  It's different from the poem I use, so I thought it would be fun to share it with you all. 

Since this is the time for goblins and bats
Halloween spirits and ghosts and cats..
Weird happenings and witches brew...
These are the things I wish for you.
May the only spirit you chance to meet be the spirit of love and warm friends sweet
May the only goblin that comes your way
Be the neighborhood phantom, whom you'll want to give away
So by tomorrow, pick three friends sweet
And give them all a Halloween treat.
You only have one day so hurry!
Leave the treat on the doorstep then flee in a flurry!

(p.s., put the ghost in your window so people know you have been spooked.)

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Mummy Dogs Recipe

Halloween is a really fun time of the year, but it doesn't really have a meal that is associated with it.  I've tried over the years to pick a Halloween-y meal that the kids can look forward to.  For a long while it was a chili night for a chilly night.  However, we have one person in our family that thinks chili is the most disgusting thing ever, so that meal idea went out the window.  About three or four years ago I stumbled upon a recipe for Mummy Dogs.  So our Halloween-y meal became a Hallo-weenie meal! 

Take a package of hot dogs and one recipe for biscuit dough.  You can use packaged biscuit dough (the kind that comes in the can) or your own recipe, or the biscuit mix.  I like my own recipe, which can be found in the recipe section here.  Take one hot dog, and wrap it in a long strand of biscuit dough, leaving a little face area clear at the top of the dog.  Bake it in the oven according to your biscuit recipe.  Remove from oven and put two little mustard dots on the face for eyes.  My kids, young and old, love this meal.  We serve it with rootbeer floats.  You could use vegan hot dogs, of course, or pre-cooked sausage links.  I like this recipe because it is really quick on a busy night, and lots of fun. 

The Phantom Ghost

I wrote this post last year on our family blog:  The MacIntyre Family.  It is my most popular post by far on that blog!  So I thought I'd share it with all of you today.  This is a really fun activity for Halloween, kids love to ding dong ditch or ring and run, whatever you call it in your neck of the woods.

Saturday night we were all watching a movie when the doorbell rang. It was quite late for a visitor, and Justin ran up the stairs to see who it was. No one was there, but there was a gift bag on our doorstep full of goodies, with a poster of a ghost that said "We've Been Spooked", and a set of instructions. The Phantom Ghost had struck!! We were instructed to do the same to two other families. So this evening for family night we got two gift bags ready with treats, made our ghost posters and got ready to strike! It was hard to decide which families to target, but we managed to narrow it down. Josh and Scott hit the first victim's house. Their black sweatshirts helped them blend into the night. Sarah and Jeff were the next phantoms, and ran like the wind (or a gentle breeze...) We were playing some Halloween tunes in the van to make it seem more festive. Is Kung-Fu Fighting a Halloween song? Scott and I were debating this. He said it's not spooky, and that I just like the song. I said some people dress up like ninjas so it's appropriate. He's right, though. I do like the song. We also listened to Ghostbusters and Thriller. It was lots of fun. After a few minutes we decided to see if our packages had been picked up, and they had been! In fact, one house had their phantom already hanging in their window. Here's the poem we attached to our treat bags:

The Phantom Ghost

The Phantom Ghost has come to town,

To leave some goodies as I see you've found.

If you do not wish a curse to fall,

Continue this greeting, this phantom call.

First, place this Phantom where it can be seen,

And leave it there 'til Halloween.

This will scare other Phantoms who may try to call,

Be sure to participate - you'll have a ball!

Second, make 2 treats, 2 Phantoms, and 2 notes like this,

Deliver them to 2 neighbors who might have been missed.

Don't let them see you, be sneaky and quick,

The hardest part is deciding whose house to pick.

Third, leave at the door where there is no light,

Ring the doorbell, run, stay out of sight.

Be happy, have fun and come join the season,

The best kind of tricks are the ones that are pleasin'.

And remember this one very important fact,


Sunday, October 16, 2011

The Stump Farm

There was a display of the books by Robert J. Adams at our local library.  He is a local author, raised in Edson, Alberta.  I picked up a copy of his first book, The Stump Farm.  I am so glad I did, what a wonderful story of growing up in Northern Alberta!  It takes place when he is a very little boy, about six or seven, around the time the soldiers are returning home from WW2.  His dad is a cat skinner (operates heavy machinery), and they live out in the middle of nowhere, on a farm where their most prolific crop is the stumps of the trees they cut down for firewood.  It's a collection of the various scrapes and mischief a little boy can get into, from losing his rubber boots in the ruts of a logging road, to being chased by a neighbors dogs, to surviving the rules of the playground at school.  I have to say I enjoyed a few belly laughs while reading this, and I think his mother was a saint!  If you're interested in a glimpse of life in rural Alberta in the 1940's, this book is for you. 

Parable of the Apple Tree

There once was a wise man who had four sons.  He greatly desired for them to learn wisdom, so over the course of a year he sent each son on a quest.  They each travelled to see an apple tree, one in the winter, one in the spring, one in the summer, and the last in the fall.  At the end of the year the wise man gathered his sons together and asked them to describe to him what they had seen.  The first son said, "I saw an old apple tree, ugly, gnarled and bare."

The second son said, "I saw an apple tree as well, but it was not ugly and old.  It was young and beautiful, covered in pale green leaves and delicate blossoms."

The third son exclaimed, "No, the tree was mature and laden down with an abundant harvest.  It was wonderful to behold."

The fourth son said, "The tree I saw was awash in the most beautiful colors, with its leaves spangled like gold on the ground."

The wise father explained to his sons that they had each visited the same tree, and viewed it in different seasons.  They learned to not judge a tree by one season, but as a whole.

I am thankful for the seasons of my life, and look forward to viewing the whole.

(I have searched several times for the general conference talk this came from.  I just had to go from memory.  If anyone can remember the speaker, please let me know so I can add the link!)

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Pride O' Scotland Shortbread Wedges

My mother has been making these delicious treats as far back as I can remember.  I usually save these for the holiday season.  There was a Recipe Exchange being hosted at our church this evening, but because of a school concert conflict, I won't be there.  So I thought I'd share the recipe I would have brought anyway!

Pride O' Scotland Shortbread Wedges

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Farenheit.  In a large bowl, put 1 1/4 cups flour, 3/4 cup white sugar aind 1/4 teaspoon salt.  Mix well.  Add 1 cup softened butter, 1 egg yolk and 1 teaspoon vanilla.  Mix well with hands, until dough is smooth.  Divide into two equal balls.  With floured hands, using palm of hand, press each ball into a pie plate.  Use tines of fork to crimp around edges, and prick entire surface with fork as well.  Bake for 20-25 minutes at 375 degrees Farenheit, or until light golden brown around edges.  Sprinkle with powdered icing sugar and let cool.  When cool, cut into wedges.

These are one of my most favorite treats, I hope you enjoy them!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Pie Crust Tip

Here's a handy tip for all the pie makers out there, especially as the holiday season (in Canada) has started already.  In order to keep the edges of your pie crust from browning way too much, buy a stack of inexpensive foil pie tins, and cut off the rim.  Place the rim over the edge of the pie crust while baking, taking it off the last 20 minutes or so to let the crust brown a little.  You can throw away the foil rim, or wash and re-use it.  This is easier than trying to form a ring from aluminum foil.  Happy pie making!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!!

Happy Thanksgiving from our family to yours!

Friday, October 7, 2011

The Princess Bride - 24th Birthday!!!

I was flicking through the channels this morning, when who should appear on a morning news broadcast but a reunion of some of the cast of The Princess Bride !!  I stopped, of course, to watch Robin Wright, Chris Sarandon, Wallace Shawn, Billy Crystal, Carole Kane, and Cary Elwes reminiscing about what it was like to be part of a movie that has ended up being an absolute classic.  It was charming, I grinned from ear to ear, and vowed to re-watch the movie this weekend. 

This film came out in 1987, and was directed by Rob Reiner.  It was not a big hit in the theatres.  However, it grew into a cult classic, with devoted fans, and then fandom spread until it became an actual bonafide classic in its own right, even making it onto top 100 movies of all time lists!  The movie is based on a book, written by William Goldman, and if you get your hands on the book it's an even bigger treat.  I have owned three copies of the book over the years.  One was lent to a friend, never to be seen again.  I hold no grudges, I wouldn't give it back either.  One was read over and over again until the covers fell off and it accidentally drowned in the bathtub.  I'm on my third copy, and make no promises. 

Why do I love this story/movie so much?  Number one, Rob Reiner is a genius, and made a practically perfect movie.  Number two, the cast is a-ma-zing!  Number three, William Goldman is a great screenwriter as well as author, and wrote some of the most quotable lines in moviedom.  Number four, true love, duelling, swords, giants, pirates.....need I say more?  For a girl addicted to fairy tales this movie has it all. 

Here are some of my favorite quotes from the movie:

We are men of action, lies do not become us. (Wesley)
As You Wish (Wesley)
Anybody want a peanut? (Fezzik)
He's still following us?  Inconceivable! (Vizzini)
You keep using that word.  I do not think it means what you think it means. (Inigo)
Have fun storming the castle! (Miracle Max and Valerie)
I'm not a witch, I'm your wife! (Valerie)
Never go against a Sicilian when death is on the line! (Vizzini)
Let me 'splain.  No, there is too much, let me sum up. (Inigo)

And of course, the Impressive Clergyman is priceless in everything he says!

This movie makes it onto my desert island pile of books and movies, definitely.  It's a keeper, and stands the test of time.  It's hard to believe it's been almost a quarter of a century since I've first seen it.  Forever a classic in my heart, I highly recommend The Princess Bride. 

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Thoughts on the Garden at Thanksgiving

As Canadian Thanksgiving is this coming weekend, I have been thinking (and thanking) about my dear little garden and all the pleasure it gave me this year.  Right from the first sight of crocuses and rhubarb pushing their way up through the snow, to the petunias, sunflowers and tomatoes (yes, tomatoes!) still clinging to life this fall.  Some things went along wonderfully, like the rhubarb, raspberries, apples, potatoes and tomatoes.  Some of my flowers were just divine, like the roses and sunflowers.  Other things didn't go quite as planned, like my dismal carrots, the sweet peas that never really managed to do anything, and the beets that just languished.  Every day was an adventure, as I weeded and planned, pruned and picked in my little Eden.  I'm so thankful for the good earth and all that grows in it.  Every seed contains a miracle that will always amaze me.  We will give thanks this Monday for all our many blessings, with hearts full of gratitude.

graphics courtesy of

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Peek-a-boo Cherry Cake #1

My friend Colleen makes this amazing cherry sheetcake that my children absolutely love!  When I was digging through my recipe box the other day, I found this recipe for Peek-a-boo Cherry Cake that reminded me of Colleen's cake, so I decided to give it a try.  (Do you have recipes like this, that you copied down twenty years ago and are just now trying out?  Please say you're more up to date than I am!)  While I was rifling through some very old recipe magazines at work I found another cherry cake that has the same effect, which I will post after I have tested it, and will let you know which one I like best.  Then, maybe Colleen will share her original recipe with me and it'll just be a cherry cake-a-polooza!

This is a very pretty cake, and perfect for the holiday season.

I don't know who gave me this recipe, so no credit can be given.  Thank you, whoever you are!

Peek-a-boo Cherry Cake

350 degrees Farenheit
45 minutes
12 servings

1/2 cup margarine or butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/3 cup milk
1 can cherry fruit filling
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup slivered almonds

Combine all ingredients (except cherry filling, 2 T. sugar and 1/4 c. almonds) in large bowl.  Blend, then beat for three minutes at medium speed.  Spread 3/4 of dough evenly in greased 9x13 pan.  Spoon fruit filling on top and spread gently to cover surface.  Drop remaining dough by small spoonfuls over cherry layer.  Sprinkle 2 tablespoons sugar and almonds over top.  Bake at 350 degrees F. for 45 minutes or until golden brown.  Let cool, and cut into squares.  Yum!

graphics courtesy of

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The Missing Sock Box

Here's my frugal tip for the day!  Keep those old mismatched socks in your rag bag.  Worn like a glove, they are great for dusting.  This is a good duster to give to children as well.  This is great in particular for woodwork and wooden spindles, the back of the piano or refrigerator, or ceiling fans. 

"The world has enough for everyone's need, but not enough for everyone's greed." - Mahatma Gandhi.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Conference Weekend Traditions

This weekend has been a wonderful General Conference for our Church.  We live in an area where the conference sessions (two sessions on Saturday and another two on Sunday) are broadcast on our local cable network, so we get to watch in the comfort of our own home!  This is a blessing, but also poses some hidden challenges, like how to establish a reverent atmosphere in our family room, which is not usually a reverent place!

The first Saturday session was at ten a.m., but Scott and I were in charge of chapel cleaning this Saturday.  We scheduled the cleaning to start early, so people could get back home in time for the first session, and we almost made it in time!  We sat around the kitchen table with the laptop, drinking hot chocolate and eating Timbits while we watched conference.  The children did a pretty good job of paying attention.  We didn't expect them to watch the second session, we don't usually require more than one session a day from the younger set.  Two hours is a long time to pay attention, and we don't want them to hate conference weekend, but look forward to it.  I did catch most of the second session, inbetween picking up and dropping off people at work and other regular Saturday stuff.  Saturday is more difficult because it is still a work day and activity day in lots of ways, so although we do our best to clear that day, stuff still happens. 

Saturday evening Scott, Jason and Justin went to the stake centre to watch the priesthood session of conference.  Afterwards, they went out for a hamburger.  This is a night Scott really looks forward to, he loves to go to conference with his boys!  Jeffrey can't wait to turn twelve so he can go too!  I made a fun dinner for the rest of us, and when the big guys came home, everyone camped out in the family room to watch a movie.  (Except me, I just can't bear Transformers!)

Sunday is the day we focus on the most, since it is the Sabbath.  I made a big breakfast to start off our conference morning.  We have the same thing every General Conference - english muffin sandwiches with cheese, fried egg, and bacon (or sausage).  Yum!  The second session Scott and I both watched, while the younger kids amused themselves quietly (I wish!)  Afterwards, we had a nice Sunday dinner of lasagna, garlic bread and hot fudge pudding cake. 

Here are some ideas for making conference more fun at home.  Some people still get dressed up for Sunday and sit on straight backed chairs, they find this helps with reverence.  We are more the grab-your-favorite-blanket-and-cuddle-up types.  Another idea is to get a previous conference issue and pull out the insert with all the general authorities pictures, and mark off the ones that speak that session.  Jeff and Josh like to play a jelly bean game, where I make a list of gospel-type words (faith, testimony, chapel, commandments, etc.,) and assign a colored jelly bean to each word.  Whenever they hear a word spoken in a talk, they put a colored jelly bean in their bowl that corresponds with the word.  Then they tally the beans at the end to see which word wins.  Older kids can learn to take notes for the different speakers, using their journal as a notebook.  I know one grandma in Calgary that invited all her children and their spouses and children over for a huge conference waffle breakfast.  It's nice to think of ways to make conference more meaningful by building special traditions that fit your family.  The goal is to get everyone to look forward to General Conference, and get something personal out of it. 

Saturday, October 1, 2011

The black screen of death.... dun dun dunnnnnnn......

I booted up my computer on Monday, ready to hit the blogosphere, bloggernacle, or whatever you call it when we blog.  I was half way through a post when....everything went black!  I gasped, rebooted the computer, and was relieved that most of the post had been autosaved.  Back to work, click click click went my fingers on the keys, then - blackness again!  Gasp!  This happened a few more times before I came to the bleak conclusion that something was seriously wrong. 

Even worse, tech support (Scott) was in Montreal on business for the next few days.  When tech support (Scott) finally came back home, he came to the conclusion that my computer is broken. That's why he's paid the big bucks. 

This is my sad story of why I have been absent from the bloggernacle all week.  I'm borrowing Scott's laptop right now while he's at the priesthood session of conference this evening.  Thanks honey!  Hopefully I"ll be able to get caught up this coming week, until then - happy blogging everyone!