All Hallows’ Eve – Happy Halloween!

I hope everyone has a very safe and happy Halloween!

Halloween has always been one of my favorite holidays. Y’all know I love holidays in general, but the magic of Halloween has always placed it at the top. I also love that it kind of “kicks off” the other holidays of this time of year, making it even more special to me.

So, for today, I’m here to give a brief history of Halloween, as well as a few traditions!

“Halloween’s origins date back to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain (pronounced sow-in). The Celts, who lived 2,000 years ago in the area that is now Ireland, the United Kingdom and northern France, celebrated their new year on November 1.

This day marked the end of summer and the harvest and the beginning of the dark, cold winter, a time of year that was often associated with human death. Celts believed that on the night before the new year, the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead became blurred. On the night of October 31 they celebrated Samhain, when it was believed that the ghosts of the dead returned to earth.”

Following Halloween is All Saints’ Day on November 1st and All Souls’ Day on November 2nd.

 

Now for some traditions!Soul Cakes

But what about the Halloween traditions and beliefs that today’s trick-or-treaters have forgotten all about? Many of these obsolete rituals focused on the future instead of the past and the living instead of the dead.

In particular, many had to do with helping young women identify their future husbands and reassuring them that they would someday—with luck, by next Halloween—be married. In 18th-century Ireland, a matchmaking cook might bury a ring in her mashed potatoes on Halloween night, hoping to bring true love to the diner who found it.

In Scotland, fortune-tellers recommended that an eligible young woman name a hazelnut for each of her suitors and then toss the nuts into the fireplace. The nut that burned to ashes rather than popping or exploding, the story went, represented the girl’s future husband. (In some versions of this legend, the opposite was true: The nut that burned away symbolized a love that would not last.)

Another tale had it that if a young woman ate a sugary concoction made out of walnuts, hazelnuts and nutmeg before bed on Halloween night she would dream about her future husband.

Young women tossed apple-peels over their shoulders, hoping that the peels would fall on the floor in the shape of their future husbands’ initials; tried to learn about their futures by peering at egg yolks floating in a bowl of water; and stood in front of mirrors in darkened rooms, holding candles and looking over their shoulders for their husbands’ faces.

Other rituals were more competitive. At some Halloween parties, the first guest to find a burr on a chestnut-hunt would be the first to marry; at others, the first successful apple-bobber would be the first down the aisle.

Gracious Guests and Helpful Hosts

We’re entering that time of year where people often spend more time celebrating various holidays with friends and family. While this should lead to enjoyment, it can often lead to disaster – which brings me to today’s Top 5 post.

Today’s Top 5 has a list for both guests and hosts to do (or to not do) in order to enjoy holidays more.

The lists were compiled after a reader asked if it was okay to host a potluck Thanksgiving. My answer: it absolutely is, provided that all expectations are clearly defined to your guests in the beginning.

Enjoy!

Guests Top 5:

  • Show up on time
  • Offer to bring something to share
  • Bring a hostess gift
  • Help clean up after the meal
  • Don’t overstay your welcome

Hosts Top 5:

  • Set out clear expectations of your guests
  • Have most items prepped before guests arrive
  • Have yourself fully dressed and ready to celebrate by the time guests arrive
  • Delegate tasks to your guests if help is offered
  • Always be gracious and welcoming to your guests

Halloween Burgers

If you’re looking for a kid-friendly meal or an easy way to entertain friends for Halloween, this is the recipe for you! I almost didn’t post it because it’s so simple, but sometimes the best ideas are easy.

For Halloween burgers, start with 80-20 Angus ground beef. Add in 2 teaspoons of worcestershire sauce. Fun fact: I can’t pronounce this correctly to save my life. Also sprinkle in salt and pepper. I ended up finely dicing 1/2 of a small onion (1/4 of a large onion), as well, because my daughter requested it. We were cooking inside, which is why I love the 80-20 beef. The juices it gives off, with a little butter added, makes the best grilled buns!

Ok, so back to the meat. Form 4 patties and cook for about 6 minutes on the first side and another 5-6 on the second. I like well done ground beef.

To make these Halloween burgers and not just everyday burgers, I cut up Amercian cheese slices into jack-o’-lantern faces!

The kids got to decorate the burgers. I’m not an artist by any means, but my kids didn’t seem to care at all. Then I cut up veggies and placed them on a Halloween platter for the kids to further decorate their burgers.

Excuse their pajamas. They played in mud earlier. 😉

I nearly didn’t put the veggies on the platter because it was just the four of us, but something has been on my heart lately.

So many blogs seem to promote honestly and realness. I love and appreciate that. However, I hope that, as this continues to gain popularity, we don’t let standards and expectations slip with it. Going beyond the basics is a good thing, in my opinion. Setting out the pretty plates or platters isn’t superfluous. It adds beauty to everyday life. While I am losing the need for perfection, I am gaining an appreciation of doing more than the minimum. Thank you for letting me share this with you!

Mass Thank You Notes

Today’s post is brought to you by a reader’s comment from this post. I thought it was such an important topic, and I couldn’t believe I hadn’t already touched on it!

A common trend to escape actually writing thank you notes is for the recipient of a gift to send a group email or send a thank you note to everyone from work/church/etc. This, though, defeats the purpose of the thank you note, which is to express genuine thanks specifically to a person or family. The most people you should include on a thank you note would be everyone who resides in a single home. So, sending one to Uncle John, Aunt Sue and cousins Mark and Maggie is acceptable. Sending one to all 15 members of the IT department is not.

One minor exception would be to send a group email expressing thanks before following up with a hand-written note.

Ideally, a thank you note is physical (not electronic); it is to one person or family; it is handwritten.

The note doesn’t need to be lengthy. Let the giver know how the gift will be used and that it is appreciated. I always suggest adding in that you appreciate that they attended/missed them and one other personal thing in the note.

Thank you for the topic suggestion!

Roasted Pork Loin

Today we get to continue our recipes series! I have a love of vintage recipes, and when I was at the store the other day, I saw a beautiful pork loin, which I thought would be perfect. This is an incredibly simple recipe, and I hope you love it! I tried to take step-by-step pictures to help!

First, heat your oven to 350 degrees. Chop 3 cloves of garlic.Next, get your salt and pepper ready. Then you’ll want to rinse off your pork loin and place in a cake pan.I’m using Garlic Olive Oil from Olive Paris because it’s my favorite! Also grab any dried herb that you like. I wanted rosemary from our garden, but the guys were pouring the decking for our pool, and I didn’t want to be “that person” who tripped and fell into wet cement.

Ok, now that your ingredients are ready, drizzle 3-4 tablespoons of oil on the pork loin.Then, sprinkle with garlic, salt, pepper and the herb of your choice. I went with tarragon!Bake for about an hour covered with foil. Our entire family loved it, which it why I only got the following shot of it fully cooked.Enjoy!