OOOOooo the beauty of autumn! Whether you are planning a harvest celebration or Halloween party we have ideas to light up your nights. A Harvest and Halloween Handbook is like a best friend who knows how to cook – and here are some of our favorite ideas to help you plan your happiest Halloween.
Pick a DATE
Since Halloween falls on a Sunday this year, you might want to host an alternative party. Consider a get-together, neighborhood trick-or-treat or trunk or treat on a Friday or Saturday night for religious reasons or to avoid a Monday morning hangover for sugared-up school-kiddos.
2. Select a THEME
Why not try something new this year?
Gratitude for the blessings of the harvest is a cross-cultural multi-millennia-old foundation for fall festivities.
Perhaps a party calling to mind the historic settings of your family heritage would be entertaining. Consider early American, Western, European, Asian or Central American or African themes. The French have La Toussiant, the Latin Americans remember their ancestors on Dia De Los Muertos. Jewish friends celebrate blessings of the harvest with Sukkot or the Feast of the Tabernacles.
There are classic themes based on country fairs, earlier eras and literature such as “Winnie the Pooh,” and “The Wizard of Oz.” Take a new Halloween theme and give it a traditional Halloween look by using lots of orange, purple, yellow, citron and black, stars, lightening bolts, moons and other Halloween icons.
Create a Halloween western adventure, explore space, have a pirate romp, “It’s a jungle out there,” expedition, medieval festival or dress as characters from Cinderella or another favorite fairy tale, event or story. How about a fashion show with an invitation to come as your favorite ______or host a “Come as you really are” party.
3. Send out/deliver INVITATIONS
4. DECORATE – because, you know, “all the world’s a stage…”
5. Plan a MENU
Make it elaborate or easy on yourself! Let your guests help too.
6. FUN AND GAMES for kids of all ages! What’s a party without games and diversions?
7. COSTUMES AND DRESS-UP
Wherever and however you celebrate – we hope you have the happiest Halloween of all!
Yes, intrepid art lovers, this watercolor shepherdess is after William Bouguereau, my favorite artist. She reminds me of the brave settlers who tamed the wilderness and made the desert blossom as a rose. Among my family members, there were many who crossed oceans and plains to help establish Zion in the Rocky Mountains. This week we celebrate Pioneer Day in Utah, and this celebration is very different from last year.
For your entertainment, I am posting a few of my favorite Pioneer Day activities. If you need a fun learning experience for children, my Etsy shop features a digital download of activities of the Pioneer children that helped their families get established in the West.
For authentic fun – create your own pioneerwear. Simplicity, McCall and other pattern companies have patterns and directions for bonnets, pioneer dresses and menswear in the costume sections of their catalogs.
While you are at the fabric shop; pick up some material to start a quilt top or banner.
For knitters, you can quickly whip up a cross-body bag using scrap yarn. make a rectangle, fold it in half, stitch up the sides, add a braided handle, a button accent if desired and you are done!
Pioneers often spruced up their lodgings, no matter how humble. One took a dining table and chairs in her covered wagon for dining alfresco. a grapevine wreath from a craft store tied with bundles of fresh herbs and flowers makes a charming rustic accent.
Hit up your local blacksmith for classes in the basics. My son and his Dad invested in beginner classes and created these stunning hammers. My son’s blacksmith ancestors, the Webbs, would be proud.
Get to know the neighbors. Brigham Young encouraged the pioneers to befriend their indigenous neighbors. He said it was better to feed them than to fight them. Creating pictographs helps children develop their creativity and visual language skills.
Lucky pioneer girls had handkerchief dolls to cuddles. Made out of a square of fabric and wrapped in another scrap, these soft babies gave comfort to their mommies on their 16 week hike.
A wooden button and a piece of string kept little guys entertained on the trail.
When your un-refrigerated food supply needs to last for weeks and weeks, beef jerky is a real treat.
We’re not much of a taffy-pulling clan, but we do love a good popcorn ball. Here’s our favorite recipe courtesy of Jiffy Time Popcorn.
1 cup Jolly Time Popcorn
Using your hands with fingers spread like a rake to remove unpopped kernels. Transfer popped corn to very large greased baking pan or mixing bowl and set aside.
Combine in large heavy saucepan:
2 cups sugar
2/3 cup light corn syrup
2/3 cup water
½ cup butter
1 tsp. salt
Heat in pan, stirring constantly. Cook to hard ball stage, remove from heat, add
2 tsp. vanilla extract
Food coloring, if desired
Stir in popped popcorn. Let cool for a few minutes. With buttered hands, form warm mixture into balls, place on waxed paper to cool. Wrap in cellophane or plastic wrap. Keeps up to 2 weeks. Makes 15 popcorn balls.
So bust out your enamel campware and head outside for a Pioneer Day celebration to remember.
Whether you find yourself back in the saddle (or not) this Pioneer Day, we wish you a joyous handmade family experience!
Oh the times we live in. People throughout history could have only dreamed about the advances in health and comfort, industry, agriculture; heck, housing with indoor plumbing and hot and cold running water. Early settlers of the American colonies were battling just to remain alive. Famine, disease and indigenous peoples who didn’t like newcomers were a constant thereat to life and limb.
One fall we visited Jamestown, Yorktown and Williamsburg in Virginia and were mesmerized by the beauty of nature there. They were at the edge of a land truly worth fighting for. This Independence Day we honor the lives, choices and sacrifice of pilgrims, patriots and those who gave us the “Land of the free and the home of the brave.”
We’re celebrating at our house in the West this year. we are in the midst of a historic heat wave and drought, everything is tinder-dry. No personal fireworks here!
While we continue to search for property to build on, we are living in a quaint 1940’s brick house in Salt Lake City, Utah. Most of my patriotic goodies are in storage but I managed to find a few pieces of Americana to celebrate the Spirit of America. Happy 4th!
I’ll add more photos as they are available. Right now I’m heading to the pool! …That was refreshing.
I thought it would be fun to look back at other Independence Day celebrations.
And one of my favorite patriot stories about American Revolutionary War heroes Samuel and Elizabeth Duncan Porter.
Elizabeth Porter: America: 1750-1845
Elizabeth was born to Thomas and Elizabeth Duncan in Lancaster Pennsylvania in 1750. The Duncan parents were born in Scotland, moved to Ireland and then to the British colonies in America. They settled in Lancaster, which is known in modern times for an Amish community, lush green farms and hillsides.
Elizabeth enjoyed growing up in the beautiful countryside of Pennsylvania. In the spring she played with the lambs and picked flowers. But childhood ended early for Elizabeth; her father died when she was six years old and her help was needed for the farm and family. She grew to be a strong and lovely woman.
At twenty-five she met a man who would sweep her off her feet and she married her beloved Samuel Porter. He and his brothers had immigrated to the colonies from Ireland. As a member of the Virginia militia, Samuel was one of the men responsible for patrolling the roads and trails to keep travelers safe from Indian raids. The British had enlisted the Indians to attack settlers on the western frontiers of the colonies.
The winds of war began to blow across America.
Samuel, Elizabeth, their two young children, her mother, brother and other family members had established a small village in the hills between Kentucky and Virginia. The entire town was captured by Indians in 1780. It is thought that British soldiers were with them because they were not scalped. The attackers took all of their stock and possessions.
They were marched and carried over 600 miles to Detroit. Elizabeth had to work hard to keep her little children quiet so they would not be killed by their captors. She was pregnant with her third child. Sometimes when she was permitted to ride in a canoe, she sat with her feet in water for hours and hours. Samuel was sentenced to die. The other men were placed in stockades and pens and nearly starved to death.
Elizabeth was put to work cooking for the British officers. She saved scraps of bread and meat from the plates and smuggled them out when she took out the dishwater. As she placed the tub of water and food near Samuel’s prison, he was able to reach through the cracks in the barn to get the food. Her act of courage probably kept him alive.
Elizabeth who was still pregnant, her young children Margaret and Hugh and her mother were marched as a prisoners-of-war another 700 miles from Detroit to Quebec, Canada.
On January 7th, New York Harbor froze over. In the bitter cold of a winter that would become known as the “little Ice Age, ” far from her home, Elizabeth gave birth to baby Samuel. She was a captive of the British and Shawnee Indians because she believed in freedom.
Her husband Samuel suffered as well in the confinement of the prison camp. 8 of 10 American prisoners died in the hulls of British warships. He did not know what had become of Elizabeth, their unborn baby or the other two young children.
Many people sacrificed much for the cause of freedom. Some sacrificed everything.
Elizabeth took care of baby Samuel, little Margaret and Hugh the best she could. She sang to them the Celtic lullabies her mother had sung to her.
She told them the Bible stories she had learned as a child. Tales of Moses leading Israel to freedom, of brave Joseph and how Daniel’s life was spared.
She would have loved to have been home when spring came. She would have loved to have worked in her garden with her children and enjoyed outings with her family and friends. Because the cause of freedom had meant so much to Elizabeth and Samuel; she had no home to return to.
Samuel was a hard worker and as one of many brothers, he knew how to get along and be helpful. His execution was stayed by a British commander who took a liking to him.
The price of independence was very high. When the war ended and freedom was won, Elizabeth, Samuel and the others were released and made their way back to Virginia and to each other.
Elizabeth and Samuel had three more children. In later years as Samuel and his sons were building a house, they were attacked again by natives. A pack of wild dogs appeared and chased away the braves. Another time as their daughters were fetching water, they were watched by another band of Indians. It is not known why, but they were left alone. As the family grew, their lives were filled with both joy and sorrow and their sacrifice blessed their family for generations.
Elizabeth lived 95 years. She died and was buried in Jackson County, Missouri where a marker and plaque were placed to honor the memory of this heroine of the American Revolutionary War.
Elizabeth’s legacy is celebrated today by the Daughters of the American Revolution and Sons of the American Revolution organizations with chapters that have been named for her.
The hows and whys of our national holidays have maybe never have been as important as they are now. We must remember the significant events of the past as our history is challenged and in some cases, erased or rewritten by scheming individuals and organizations. Our collective identity is built on a foundation of courage, sacrifice and honor. Memorial Day is the perfect time to remember who we are and were we came from.
Memorial Day began as a commemoration of the soldiers who fought and died in America’s Civil War. It was a terrifyingly brutal military engagement. Besides the fact that fathers were fighting their sons and brothers against brothers, the casualties were so great that the total of fallen soldiers in all of the others wars we have fought do not equal the number who died fighting in the Civil War, now thought to be close to 750,000.
Arlington National Cemetery has its roots firmly planted in the Civil War. When General Robert E. Lee was leading the Confederate forces, the Union generals began burying their dead in the kitchen garden of Lee’s family’s plantation. At the end of the war, the Union confiscated Lee’s plantation as war reparations and turned it into Arlington National Cemetery.
I’ve been teaching this week at Highland High School in Salt Lake City. My freshmen students have been creating “Letters to Your Senior Self,” a tradition at Highland. I was thinking about how my life changed during the next 3 years of high school. It occurred to me that when I was a freshman, some of the seniors graduating would be drafted and sent to fight in the Vietnam War. Nowadays, the seniors may be leaving for 2 years of church service, family vacations, their first jobs or time with a parent they see in the summer.
The poppy is a traditional symbol of Memorial Day. The story behind this icon can be found here. The poem “In Flanders Field” was originally penned about World War 1 but has become a Memorial Day classic too.
In Flanders Fields
BY JOHN MCCRAE In Flanders fields the poppies blow Between the crosses, row on row, That mark our place; and in the sky The larks, still bravely singing, fly Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow, Loved and were loved, and now we lie, In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe: To you from failing hands we throw The torch; be yours to hold it high. If ye break faith with us who die We shall not sleep, though poppies grow In Flanders fields.
Modern Memorial Day celebrations often feature the decorating of graves, both military and family, veteran speakers at special ceremonies and picnics and barbecues. We should take moment and teach our families about Memorial Day, the cost of freedom and pay our respects to those who have paid the price. When you add the facts that 750,000 lives were given to end slavery, it’s not hard to see that America is not a racist nation.
Here is a delicious dessert to share with your loved ones as we honor the heroes of our nation this Memorial Day.
My sister Cindy gave us a Cuisinart ice cream maker for Christmas a couple of years ago. We adapted this recipe using theirs for basic vanilla ice cream. Ours calls for freezing the container for 24 hours before using. Follow the preparation instructions for your ice cream maker.
Coconut Nut Ice Cream
In a large mixing bowl combine the following ingredients, refrigerate overnight:
1 C milk ( the recipe calls for whole but we have been happy using our 1%)
2/3 C granulated sugar
pinch of salt
2 C heavy cream
1 TBSP coconut extract
The next day, place in the frozen Cuisinart ice cream maker bowl, attach paddle and turn on. After the ice cream mixture has processed about 20 minutes, add
1 C shredded sweetened coconut
1 C salted mixed nuts
Continue processing until mixture starts to harden. Place in freezer for a few minutes until it sets up. Makes 10 – 1/2 C servings.
HAPPY MEMORIAL DAY AND THANK YOU TO ALL WHO HAVE SERVED AND SACRIFICED.
We were still reeling from Pandemic 2020 and the outlook for many aspects of life was rather bleak. We said goodbye to loved ones unexpectedly, watched aghast at political chaos, inner-city violence and destruction then waited in lines for the miracle vaccine. Toilet paper reappeared on store shelves, but anti-viral wipes didn’t. School was in , then out, then in, then out, the economy sagged, rebounded and the market is doing who-knows-what.
And in the midst of the uncertainty and unrest – love bloomed. They met at church and after talking for a bit found they had a lot in common. They started planning dates featuring their interests and with so much of the culture in lock down; they played a lot of games. Board games, card games, re-enactments, espionage, target shooting, knife throwing and during all of this realized that they were a match made in heaven. He would somehow know when she needed a sympathetic ear, she gave him good advice and a caring heart.
And so he designed an engagement ring and had it handmade for her. And she starting arranging bouquets of dried flowers. And despite the quarantine and chaos, loved bloomed. On a beautiful morning in April, they traveled to God’s House and were sealed as husband and wife for time and all eternity.
And so their happily ever after began. I’ll add more photos later but you can see that through it all love bloomed.
The history of our Lord Jesus Christ was eloquently recorded by Luke, a physician. In his book in the Holy Bible’s New Testament, the 23rd chapter Luke shares (from LDS.org):
Jesus is taken before Pilate, then to Herod, and then to Pilate again—Barabbas is released—Jesus is crucified between two thieves—He is buried in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathæa.
1 And the whole multitude of them arose, and led him unto Pilate.
2 And they began to accuse him, saying, We found this fellow perverting the nation, and forbidding to give tribute to aCæsar, saying that he himself is Christ a bKing.
3 And Pilate asked him, saying, Art thou the King of the Jews? And he answered him and said, Thou sayest it.
4 Then said Pilate to the chief priests and to the people, I find no afault in this man.
5 And they were the more fierce, saying, He stirreth up the people, teaching throughout all Jewry, beginning from Galilee to this place.
6 When Pilate heard of Galilee, he asked whether the man were a Galilæan.
7 And as soon as he knew that he belonged unto Herod’s jurisdiction, he sent him to Herod, who himself also was at Jerusalem at that time.
8 ¶ And when Herod saw Jesus, he was exceeding glad: for he was desirous to see him of a long season, because he had heard many things of him; and he hoped to have seen some amiracle done by him.
9 Then he questioned with him in many words; but he aanswered him nothing.
10 And the chief priests and ascribes stood and vehemently accused him.
11 And Herod with his men of war set him at nought, and amockedhim, and arrayed him in a gorgeous robe, and sent him again to Pilate.
12 ¶ And the same day Pilate and Herod were made friends together: for before they were at enmity between themselves.
13 ¶ And Pilate, when he had called together the chief priests and the rulers and the people,
14 Said unto them, Ye have brought this man unto me, as one that perverteth the people: and, behold, I, having examined him before you, have found no fault in this man touching those things whereof ye accuse him:
15 No, nor yet Herod: for I sent you to him; and, lo, nothing worthy of death is done aunto him.
16 I will therefore chastise him, and release him.
17 (For of necessity he must arelease one unto them at the feast.)
18 And they cried out all at once, saying, Away with this man, and release unto us Barabbas:
19 (Who for a certain sedition made in the city, and for amurder, was cast into prison.)
20 Pilate therefore, willing to release Jesus, spake again to them.
21 But they cried, saying, aCrucifyhim, crucify him.
22 And he said unto them the third time, Why, what evil hath he done? I have found ano cause of death in him: I will therefore chastise him, and let him go.
23 And they were ainstant with loud voices, brequiring that he might be ccrucified. And the voices of them and of the chief priests prevailed.
24 And Pilate gave sentence that it should be as they arequired.
25 And he released unto them him that for sedition and amurder was cast into prison, whom they had desired; but he delivered Jesus to their will.
26 And as they led him away, they laid hold upon one Simon, a Cyrenian, coming out of the country, and on him they laid the cross, that he might bear it after Jesus.
27 ¶ And there followed him a great company of people, and of women, which also bewailed and lamented him.
28 But Jesus turning unto them said, Daughters of aJerusalem, weep not for me, but weep for yourselves, and for your children.
29 For, behold, the days are coming, in the which they shall say, Blessed are the abarren, and the wombs that never bare, and the paps which never gave suck.
30 Then shall they begin to say to the amountains, Fall on us; and to the hills, Cover us.
31 For if they do these things in a agreen tree, what shall be done in the bdry?
32 And there were also two other, amalefactors, led with him to be put to death.
33 And when they were come to the place, which is called Calvary, there they crucified him, and the malefactors, one on the right hand, and the other on the left.
45 And the sun was darkened, and the veil of the temple was rent in the amidst.
46 ¶ And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, Father, into thy hands I acommend my bspirit: and having said thus, he cgave up the dghost.
47 Now when the centurion saw what was done, he glorified God, saying, Certainly this was a arighteous man.
48 And all the people that came together to that sight, beholding the things which were done, smote their breasts, and returned.
49 And all his acquaintance, and the women that followed him from Galilee, stood afar off, beholding these things.
50 ¶ And, behold, there was a man named Joseph, a acounsellor; and he was a good man, and a just:
51 (The same had not consented to the counsel and deed of them;) he was of Arimathæa, a city of the Jews: who also himself waited for the kingdom of God.
52 This man went unto Pilate, and abegged the body of Jesus.
53 And he took it down, and wrapped it in linen, and laid it in a asepulchre that was hewn in stone, wherein never man before was laid.
54 And that day was the apreparation, and the sabbath drew on.
55 And the women also, which came with him from Galilee, followed after, and beheld the asepulchre, and how his body was laid.
56 And they returned, and prepared spices and ointments; and arested the sabbath day according to the commandment.
After the women returned to the tomb to annoint Christ’s body for burial, they found that he was not there.
Angels announce the resurrection of Christ—He walks on the Emmaus road—He appears with a body of flesh and bones, eats food, testifies of His divinity, and promises the Holy Ghost—He ascends into heaven.
1 Now upon the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came unto the asepulchre, bringing the spices which they had prepared, and certain others with them.
2 aAnd they found the stone rolled away from the sepulchre.
3 And they entered in, and found not the body of the Lord Jesus.
4 And it came to pass, as they were much perplexed thereabout, behold, two men stood by them in shining garments:
5 And as they were afraid, and bowed down their faces to the earth, they said unto them, Why seek ye the living among the dead?
6 He is not here, but is arisen: remember how he spake unto you when he was yet in Galilee,
7 Saying, The Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.
8 And they remembered his words,
9 And returned from the sepulchre, and told all these things unto the eleven, and to all the rest.
10 It was Mary Magdalene, and Joanna, and Mary the mother of James, and other women that were with them, which told these things unto the apostles.
11 And their words seemed to them as idle tales, and they believed them not.
12 Then arose Peter, and ran unto the sepulchre; and stooping down, he beheld the linen clothes laid by themselves, and departed, wondering in himself at that which was come to pass.
35 And they told what things were done in the way, and how he was known of them in breaking of bread.
36 ¶ And as they thus spake, Jesus himself astood in the midst of them, and saith unto them, bPeacebe unto you.
37 But they were terrified and affrighted, and supposed that they had seen a spirit.
38 And he said unto them, Why are ye troubled? and why do athoughts arise in your hearts?
39 Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: ahandle me, and see; for a bspirit hath not cflesh and bones, as ye dsee me have.
40 And when he had thus spoken, he shewed them his hands and his feet.
41 And while they yet believed not for joy, and awondered, he said unto them, Have ye here any meat?
42 And they gave him a piece of a broiled fish, and of an honeycomb.
43 And he took it, and did eat before them.
44 And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be afulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me.
45 Then opened he their aunderstanding, that they might understand the scriptures,
46 And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it abehoved Christ to suffer, and to brise from the dead the third day:
St. Patrick’s Day is one of our favorite holidays. We love the green and magic, the legends and lore associated with the stories of one of our favorite Christian missionaries, the iminitable St. Patrick.
Our youngest son is getting married next month. As I’ve been introduced to his fiance’s style, I learned a new term COTTAGECORE. Lighter and more feminine than Boho, this lifestyle embraces the simpler life, a handmade aesthetic focusing on health and happiness above wealth and prestige.
Cottagecore is not a new phenom, it dates back to ancient Greece when city dwellers became enamored with the simpler life of the country folk. When I was a newlywed, prairie style and handmade just-about-everything were in. We cooked and baked from scratch, made clothes, quilts, gifts and dried flower arrangements and reared our own kids. I remember laying a freshly washed quilt on tall grass to dry.
Don’t forget to read good books; a well-read mind is a marvelous companion to the simple pleasures and lifestyle of Cottagecore.
Read how cloistered Irish priests saved the civilization of Western Europe in Cahill’s classic.
Take an painting class and enjoy the confidence and joy that come from creating art.
For St. Patrick’s Day treat your family and friends to this special roast corned beef – no soggy sodden meat on our table!
GLAZED CORNED BEEFThis is so tasty, you may never go back to old-school corned beef. Preheat oven to 350. Place fat side up in a baking pan 1 corned beef brisket, rinsed, don’t use the spice packet Cover with foil, bake for 2 1/2 hours or until fork-tender. Drain, score with a knife, stud with whole cloves baste with ginger ale brush on glaze, return to oven and bake for 30 – 40 minutes uncovered. Let cool for 15 minutes, slice across the grain
BROWN SUGAR MUSTARD GLAZE
Stir together 1/2 C prepared mustard 1/2 C + 2 TBSP brown sugar
Cut in half, remove core and cut into 1/2″ slices 1 medium head of cabbage Steam covered for 6 to 8 minutes until crisp-tender, drain, drizzle with Dijon butter and season with sea salt and pepper.
DIJON BUTTER Melt 1/2 C butter Stir in 2 1/2 TBSP Dijon mustard
LEPRECHAUN TREASURE DESSERT
The leprechauns keep this hidden until the end of the meal for good reason. You might wish to dig out a Halloween cauldron to serve this dessert sprinkled with gold (chocolate) coins; this treasure has layers of rich chocolate goodness. You may wish to make your own or buy these ingredients:
1 pan of brownies (9″ x 13″ size) 1/2 gallon good-quality mint and chip ice cream fudge sauce whipped cream shaved chocolate
Bake brownies according to package directions, then cool and break into large chunks
FUDGE SAUCE Warm in a sauce pan 1 1/2 C heavy cream Add and stir until melted 16 oz. milk chocolate chips or chocolate bars 1 tsp vanilla
In a chilled bowl, whip until soft peaks form 1 1/2 C heavy cream or whipping cream 1/4 C powdered sugar 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
ASSEMBLE LEPRECHAUN TREASURE DESSERT:
In a cauldron or other container layer: brownies fudge sauce ice cream brownies fudge sauce ice cream fudge sauce whipped cream
Sprinkle with shaved chocolate and serve with gold coins
The winter storms of 2021 not only kept my love and I apart on Valentine’s Day, but the chill/ separation also meant I had no access to my files, props and favorite images.
Now, back at home and enjoying my sweetheart and stuff, I felt like looking back at a fun Valentine’s celebration we enjoyed in 2017. From the archives, I give you
A Queen of Hearts Tea Party.
Recently I became a big fan of Tim Burton’s Alice Through the Looking Glass movie and in time for Valentine’s Day, Lewis Carroll’s Queen of Hearts came to mind. I started doing research to find out whether the Queen of Heart’s obsessive painting of white roses had any connection with Britain’s Lancaster/York War of the Roses in the 15th Century. The Lancaster branch of the Plantagenet dynasty was represented by a red rose while the Yorks had a white rose. The not-so-civil war went on between the factions for 35 years until Henry Tudor of Lancaster claimed the throne and married Elizabeth of York, effectively turning the white roses red.
On a genealogical website, I learned that I was a 14th great-granddaughter of Henry Tudor and so my research became more personal. According to tradition, Henry and Elizabeth had a great love. She also loved the recently introduced French trend of playing cards (a little too much according to historians) and when she died following childbirth at the age of 37, according to legend, Henry had the image of the Queens of Hearts on all of playing cards in England made to look like her.
It was not Elizabeth but her mother-in-law Margaret who had a penchant for eliminating enemies by removing their heads. Enough said.
Valentine’s Day is an enigmatic holiday. With pagan origins of fertility rituals at Lupercalia on February 15th, anything resembling the root words of Lu, Lugh or Lucifer always makes me uneasy. The pagan rituals included the sacrifice of dogs and goats; the goatskins were stripped and dipped in goat blood then used to flog hopeful young women wishing for love and fertility in the coming year. The names of eligible young women were gathered and drawn by bachelors with whom they would cohabit during the next season, the women probably hoping it would become a permanent arrangement.
During the early part of the 5thcentury, Pope Gelasius I combined Lupercalia and the day memorializing 3 Christian martyrs named Valentine who had been executed by Roman emperor Claudius II. Claudius had decided unmarried male soldiers made the best warriors and outlawed the performing of marriage for his troops.
During the 2nd and 3rd centuries at least three Christian priests named Valentine secretly performed marriages and as a result were caught and executed. After being sainted by the Catholic Church, the name St. Valentine became synonymous with the celebration of love and the result, like Halloween, was a hybrid holiday with both charming and unfortunate sinister roots.
For centuries Valentine’s Day has been associated with love; it was thought that even birds paired off at Valentine’s Day. In medieval times, feasts included the lottery of love, like the pagans except guests were paired for the duration of the party. The romantic parts were promoted by Chaucer and Shakespeare, and the holiday’s dark past was mostly forgotten. Now moderns woo one another with chocolate, flowers, candles and poetry (and occasional bling). Wishing to view the holiday from the glass half-full perspective, it may be appropriate to present a holiday tea party to celebrate love with the unfortunately dark roots hidden away from modern gaze. Let’s return to the warm and wonderful realm of love. While I adore the idea of romance, apparently the romantic love needed to narrow our ardor and launch us into exclusive pairs expands and evolves into a less-dramatic, more stable variety of love a few years after marriage. Factor in a few delightful children and love becomes a more inclusive emotion with community-building ability.
Apparently only a small percentage of the population is involved in the explosive youthful pairing love at any given time and more of us live in the world of brotherly, familial affection so I choose to focus on that stage of love; with that in mind, A Queen of Heart’s Valentine’s Daytea party complete with warm red hearts seems like just the thing for a cold winter afternoon.
Here is a fun little crown you can make for your own Liddells or guests on Valentine’s Day. The author of the Alice in Wonderland stories, Charles Dodson or Lewis Carroll as we know him, was inspired by the Liddell girls, especially Alice. One day as he and a friend were taking the girls in a boat down the Thames, he made up the stories to entertain them. Encouraged to write them down, he eventually had them published and they became a huge hit.
Of course a Queen of Hearts tea requires crowns for each guest; these are inexpensive and easy to create. For each crown you will need
One 4” glittery red paper heart (buy or make from cardstock)
7 silver pipe cleaners
Several heart rhinestones
Craft glue or hot glue gun and glue sticks
For a large crown, twist together 2 pipe cleaners, leaving 3” tails at the twist. Bend each tail into a heart half and twist together. Repeat with a third and fourth pipe cleaner adjusting to fit the head of the wearer. Use a 5th pipe cleaner to make an arch and attach to the front of the crown. Attach the heart to the front arch using a hot glue gun then add two smaller arches that are glued to the front of the heart and the crown side . Curl the ends of the pipe cleaners and add sparkly rhinestones.
The British are known for their iconic afternoon teas even though tea parties may have originating in France. A formal tea consists of 3 courses which may be creatively arranged on a 3-tier serving piece. On the lowest plate is the first course: finger sandwiches, and savory appetizers. The second tier contains warm scones, clotted cream (a decadent cross between butter and whipped cream) and preserves. On the top tier are a variety of pastries, cakes, shortbread and fruit. For American tastes, try adding chocolate-dipped strawberries and clever little footed dishes filled with Valentine’s candy, truffles and nuts.
Of course a Valentine’s tea needs tea, but many of us don’t drink that beverage. A cup of tea minus the tea equals lemon and sugar or lemonade. Add pureed strawberries and strawberry hearts for a delicious pink drink to serve in porcelain tea cups with labels that read “drink me.”
I was surprised to find that my article for the Deseret News in Utah was published the week following Valentine’s Day (2017), but here it is; it was also picked up by newspaper websites in Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Iowa, Kentucky, Indiana and a newsfeed.
2020 has certainly been a year for the books, Orwell’s 1984 that is.
We recently sold our house in preparation to build a new home and moved into a rented house in Salt Lake City on Sunnyside Avenue near Newell’s work at the University of Utah. Sunnyside – that’s charming. The house was built in 1943 and other than having few electrical outlets in most rooms, no garbage disposal or dishwasher and being scented with an unmistakable old house musk, it is imbued with a certain vintage charm.
For years I have been collecting and creating Christmas decor with retro styling. I love me some 40’s, and 50’s mid-century illustrations and objects and guess what? They are right at home in our little house. For some reason living in a vintage house is comforting to me. It somehow helps me feel connected with my loved ones who have passed on.
This little snowman guards the gardening equipment until spring returns again.
A gingerbread cottage I created for a Long Island Pulse article.
Our tall bookcases were relegated to the main floor giving me lots of places to display favorite Christmas decorations.
My grandmother’s dresser holds gifts awaiting bows and tags.
Our living room had just enough space for a small tree that we displayed on an end table.
A built-in hutch was the perfect spot to place a few more favorite things.
I hung this little quilt I made for my grandmother way back in 1989. My aunt returned it to me after my beloved Mimie passed. Poignant to me this year as we are housing my elderly Mom whose time with us seems like it may be short.
We hope you had a wonderful Christmas and holiday season. Even though the world is topsy-turvy right now, our faith in our Savior Jesus Christ gives us strength and hope.