Halloween Fun at Hill AFB Story Hour

Thank you to Ahllam and Anna for inviting me to share story hour at the Hill AFB Library with Zach, Zoe, Ruby, Silas and all the other beautiful littles yesterday! 

We made puppets and recited 

5 Little Pumpkins

5 little pumpkins sitting on a gate
The 1st one said, “Oh my its getting late!”
The 2nd one said, “There witches in the air!”
The 3rd one said, “We don’t care!”
The 4th one said “Lets run and run and run!”
The 5th one said, “I’m ready for some fun!”
OOooooo went the wind and out went the lights
5 little pumpkins rolled out of sight! 

We heard an excerpt from the the story of Shell and Pearl and learned how Brine got a new green ball (pumpkin) sending Pearl and Shell’s family back to the pumpkin patch.


            Shell and Pearl swished the dirt from their hands. They had just finished pushing pumpkin seeds into the soil they had packed in the drink cartons their first grade class recycled at the school cafeteria. Growing pumpkins was a new experience for many of the children. They were learning about nature and plants. Their kindly old teacher Mrs. Angelfish explained that pumpkins take a long time to grow and that it was fun to care for the seeds and little plants. It was close to Mother’s Day and school would soon be dismissed for the summer. The children would watch the little seeds sprout in the drink cartons in a warm spot in the classroom window, and then, when school was over, they would take them home and plant them in their gardens. 
“I’ve never grown a pumpkin before,” admitted Shell. 
“My mom grows pumpkins every year, I love Halloween,” sighed Pearl with a dreamy look in her eyes.  
      Shell said, “I love, love, love Halloween too, but we get our pumpkin from a pumpkin patch.” Shell’s family visited a country pumpkin patch every fall and picked the biggest, roundest pumpkin they could find. They took it home and just before Halloween, Dad scooped out the slimy middle and they carved a funny smiling face into the orange globe. Then Mom picked out the seeds, soaked them in salt and before long the family enjoyed a yummy treat.  
     You may not have known that mermades celebrate Halloween, but they do. And they love it, just like human children. They think about their costumes all year long, and which sand castles they will visit when they go trick-or-treating. They think about decorating with funny octopuses and black catfish.  Mermades don’t think about spiders, because they have never seen one. But they know about crawly ghost crabs and gliding bat rays. They tell scary stories about strange lights around sunken pirate ships. And the way the wind blows over the waves in the autumn as the days grow short and the nights get darker. And mermades love to swim to the surface to see the golden harvest moon.
       Shell showed her mom and dad the little pumpkin plant in the carton. “It looks like it needs more room to grow,” said Dad. He was a principal of another school of fish and he held summer classes for tiny mermades to help them get ready for school the next year, but he would have some time off during the summer too. 
     Every so often, Shell would go to the garden to visit her little pumpkin. She showed Sandy and Brine the tiny little green ball that was beginning to grow on the vine. Brine liked visiting the garden; he was just beginning to swim. Did you know that merbabies have to learn to swim like human babies learn to walk? He would get his little tail going then plop, he’d slide on the floor. Shell and Sandy thought he was so funny! Brine loved the little ball in the garden, he was just learning to talk and could say “ball.” 
     Shell and her dad continued to work in the garden, keeping out the pesky seaweeds and sea snails. Shell’s little pumpkin was now the size of a bouncy ball. Dad brought home a clear sundial to decorate their garden and placed it in the center with some beautiful shells the family had collected once when their grandparents had visited.
        Shell was busy learning new facts and reading harder books. Pearl was in her class again, so that made school extra fun. One day Shell came home from school and looked for her mom. She found their black catfish, Don Quixote and patted his head. Mom was folding clothes, but that was not all Shell found. There, next to the laundry, was a green ball. But it wasn’t just any green ball, it was her pumpkin! “Mom!” Shell exclaimed. “Oh dear,” said Mom. 
     Just then, Brine swam into the room. He went straight for the pumpkin and said “ball!” Then he rolled it with his tail. “What happened to my pumpkin?” wailed Shell. “I think I know,” Mom replied. “Brine, where did you get the ball?” He pointed to the garden. “Brine thinks your pumpkin is a ball and I believe he picked it so he could play with it.” Shell looked at her little brother rolling the pumpkin across the floor. He looked so happy. He was too cute to stay mad at for long and Shell loved him so much. She patted his head, “Brine do you want to play ball?” she asked. “ball,” said Brine. The next day Dad took the family to the country pumpkin patch…

We fished for nursery rhymes and recited

Eensy Weensy Spider
ABC Tumbledown D
Peter Peter Pumpkin Eater
Little Miss Muffet

We learned how Winnie-the-Pooh, Tigger, Roo and Piglet helped Sammy the Owl decide what to be for Halloween.

We put on costumes and sang

What Will You Be?

What will you be? What will you be? 
What will you be for Halloween? 

I’ll be a ________, I’ll be a ________, 
I’ll be a ________ for Halloween! 

Then we colored pictures and moms and littles picked some Halloween books and we said goodbye until next time!

At the next Halloween story hour I think I’ll bring some games like toss the marshmallow in the pumpkin, buggy croquet and maybe a Snider ring toss.

Happy Halloween!

I’m not quire finished with candy yet, I’m heading back to the garage to continue working on the Macy’s candy ornament for Christmas. 


A Tween Halloween!

There are many ways to entertain tweens on Halloween.

Not quite children and not yet teenagers, tweens occupy a precarious place at Halloween. Many still like to dress up and go door-to-door with their friends, but others might enjoy an evening of alternative Halloween entertainment featuring friends, food and fun.
Host a costumed face-painting party. Many tweens are just starting to get into makeup, so face painting can be thrilling and novel. Have the tweens paint each other’s faces, then set up a photo booth. Maybe divide the group into teams, give each several rolls of toilet paper and have them fashion mummy wraps.
Plan a decorated shoes or sock party. Instead of asking guests to wear complete, full-on costumes, invite them to wear Halloween socks or shoes.
Host a movie party. Pop in a couple of Disney movies such as any from the Halloweentown series for a G-rated good time. Or, for a slightly more edgy experience, try “The Watcher in the Woods.” It’s super scary and suspenseful with no gore. Older favorites such as “That Darn Cat,” “Addams Family Values” and “Hocus Pocus” can also be options to consider.
For fun that spreads the joy around, consider a progressive dinner. Have several homes host different meal courses. If you keep them in the same neighborhood, there’s no driving involved. Costumed teens meet at the first home for soup and breadsticks. Then, on to another home for crudités with dip or salads. The third stop can be for an entree such as taco salad. Top it all off with dessert around a bonfire or a fireside with Halloween stories.
Send the tweens on a photo scavenger hunt. Since tweens can’t drive, turn them loose in the neighborhood with a list of photos they need to capture to win a prize. Many have cellphones with cameras, so have them take selfies with the superheroes, black cats, princesses, pirates, monsters and spider webs. If you want to add a treasure hunt twist, have them return to the house after the photo scavenger hunt to get a list of clues (one for each photo) and send them back out to find the treats you have hidden.
Plan a “Clue” mystery party. Speaking of clues, what about a whole-house version of the popular board game? Players can team up or go-it-alone to solve the mystery and find the weapon, victim and room. Make the clues challenging by having the players have to do math or look up information on the internet. Props can be picked up at thrift stores, garage sales or made out of cardboard. Consider setting a time limit and have the players make accusations to see who is the master detective.
Play Murder in the Dark. This classic party game is perfect for Halloween parties. The object of the game is to try to guess who the “murderer” is before others are bumped off by a wink.
Pass around pieces of paper, all blank except for one that contains a black spot. The guest who gets the black spot will be the murderer, but doesn’t tell anyone.
Collect all the papers for the next round. Lower the lights in the room, so all can barely see each other’s faces. The murderer kills the other guests by winking at them. When a guest sees that he or she is being “killed,” they groan and fall over dead. When a guest sees a victim being winked at, they call out “I have an accusation!” and name the suspected murderer. Don’t look at the murderer because they could wink you dead before you name them. If the accuser is right, they win. If they are wrong they become a victim and die, as the murderer continues his or her villainous spree.

Handmade popcorn balls are a classic Halloween treat; Courtesy of the Jolly Time Popcorn Company.

Serve others. Remind your tweens that there is more to life than their entertainment by helping them do something nice for someone else. Host a Halloween treat-making event, then share the wealth. Whip up some old-school favorites such as popcorn balls, fudge or pumpkin pie with your tweens, don your costumes and deliver the goodies to elderly family members or neighbors.
Or pack a box full of treats and ship them to missionaries or members of the armed forces who are far from home. Help with a carnival or party for young children by hosting the games and giving out prizes. Volunteer at a hospital or library for a few hours.

Pardon my excitement, but getting an article published, to me, is like winning a football game. Here are the scoreboard and stats; so far the biggest readership is coming from the Las Vegas Review Journal: 
Deseret News Web http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865665070/How-to-plan-a-successful-tween-Halloween.html?clear_cache=1
Ktar.com http://ktar.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=1321564&action=edit
NewsOK (syndication) https://admin.newsok.com/search
Bloomington Herald Times Online | Schurz
Reporter Times | Schurz http://www.reporter-times.com/life/how-to-plan-a-successful-tween-halloween/article_d31db957-a348-5ec8-84b8-2456c2a30f3b.html
Bedford Times-Mail | Schurz http://www.tmnews.com/life/how-to-plan-a-successful-tween-halloween/article_9e1f4c83-97e3-5bb0-a662-afa27b2df8b2.html
Daily American | Schurz http://www.dailyamerican.com/life/home_family/how-to-plan-a-successful-tween-halloween/article_a4605ebf-71f1-558f-b8ff-226112344166.html
Hagerstown Herald Mail Media | Schurz http://www.heraldmailmedia.com/deseret/life/how-to-plan-a-successful-tween-halloween/article_eda0b8b8-0958-51a7-b63c-7f290820b859.html
Petoskey News | Schurz http://www.petoskeynews.com/des_life/how-to-plan-a-successful-tween-halloween/article_a8e8a375-414b-595b-b4b5-205b1633fefb.html
Aberdeen News | Schurz http://www.aberdeennews.com/life/how-to-plan-a-successful-tween-halloween/article_6b206f73-76fa-54d3-8a6e-7acafbff573c.html
Las Vegas Review-Journal (Syndication) https://rj.newsengin.com/gps2/story.php?solo=yes&storyid=7238411&startingTab=
DNS (English channel 2) http://www.deseretnewsservice.com/how-to-plan-a-successful-tween-halloween-451759
WRAL, CBC New Media Group http://www.wral.com/how-to-plan-a-successful-tween-halloween/16133676/

Catch my decorating tips in US News and World Report and photos in Good Housekeeping!

One of the fun things about writing is the chance to talk to new and interesting people, especially other writers, and contribute ideas they can share. Today’s US News and World Report has an article about (what else?) Halloween that I contributed to thanks to author Geoff Williams.

Be the Best Trick-or-Treat House on the Block Without Breaking the Bank

The downside is that due to word count and space restrictions only a small portion of my content was used. Here are more ideas for your Halloween decorating: 

“… I love creative, alternative decor for Halloween and go wild for themes taken from literature like Alice and Wonderland, the Wizard of Oz, and my favorite; an enchanted forest. My best tips for cheap decor are to incorporate lots of orange lights (buy off-season) or dramatic lighting; create uplights from cans and use things you have already have or find in thrift stores, think high-tide Halloween with a boat (real or a cardboard box painted to look like a dinghy) with fake holes, eerie lights, fog, tattered nautical flags referencing creepy shipwrecks or pirate raids. Or enchanted forest with fairy houses, trails of stones, fairy lights (t.p. rolls painted black with eye-shaped holes cut out; put light sticks inside) add signs,and strange sounds. I’d add a metal dress form with tattered white or gray thrift store dress, light the inside with black lights for a banshhee.  Or grab dead branches, tumbleweeds, etc. (can you tell I live in the West?)  Stuff a couple of prone or seated with their heads down in their arms “cowboys,” set up a fake campfire with cricket sounds and sad harmonica music. Mound dirt for a grave and put a pair of cowboy boots nearby with a clue about the demised – a rubber snake, a broken cattle brand…

The funny thing is that I personally don’t do creepy, but do love Halloween icons and alternative items like glowing orange beehives hanging from trees, pumpkins on posts of different heights, Wonderland tea parties with costumed guests. Novel or humorous decor is as much of a surprise as the macabre. Check thrift stores, your friends and best of all shop off-season for next year.”

Here are other articles that may be helpful in planning your festivities: 



Need more? Download your A Harvest and Halloween Handbook from Amazon or Barnes and Noble.


Heather and Tim were featured in Good Housekeeping’s 125 years of Halloween costumes, see #4 and #40: 

If you are looking for ways to entertain your own little pumpkins, check out the Halloween party coloring pages in my Etsy shop: You can download and print 5 images for only 75 cents, there are 6 sets. Color away! 


Hello Hill AFB!

Hello Hill Air Force Base littles – are you ready to read? 

On October 26, I’ll be sharing harvest and Halloween stories and games at the Hill AFB library story hour.

Mother Goose and friends will be the special guests of our harvest and Halloween themed event.

Until then, here are a few of my favorite 
autumn books and movies: 

When I was a child, I enjoyed Eleanor Estes’ The Witch Family. I don’t normally do witches for Halloween — but I haven’t been able to shake off my affection for this cute book. The heroines are two little girlfriends who banish an imaginary witch (or is she?) to a glass mountain. Into the adventure come a pretty little witch girl, a baby witch, mermaids, cats, Easter bunnies, and a magical bumblebee… things young girls find fascinating and fun. (Check Amazon.com).

            Edgar Allen Poe short stories, Ray Bradbury’s Martian Chronicles; Usher 2 or Washington Irving’s The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. Fun and vintage poems, Little Orphan Annie, (…and the gobbleuns ‘u’ll git you if you don’t watch out!”) by James Whitcomb Riley and  Hallo’een, (“Tonight is the night when dead leaves fly…”) by Harry Behn.

I have always enjoyed Mother Goose stories. If you are looking for an image replacement for iconic Halloween witches, Mother Goose might be a good candidate; the kindly old woman loves children and likes to tell good stories.
            In her book, “The Real Personages of Mother Goose,” published in 1930, Katherine Elwes Thomas describes her theory of the origin. “The statement is made in Vol. X of Americana: It is now concluded that Mother Goose belongs to French folklore, not to English tradition. Charles Perrault, Paris 1628, was the first person to collect and publish the Contes de ma mere L’Oye or Tales of Mother Goose, and though he did not originate the name, there is no reason to think that Mother Goose was a term ever used in English Literature. The tales of Mere L’Oye are taken from ancient legends of “Goose-Footed Bertha,” wife of Robert II of France. Queen Bertha is represented in French legends as spinning, with children clustered around her listening to her tales. From this arose the French custom of referring any incredible stories to the “time when good Queen Bertha spun.” (Have you ever heard of spinning a yarn?) 

The French tales of Mere L’Oye are tales in prose: Little Red Riding Hood, The Fairy, the sisters who drop diamonds and toads respectively from their mouths, Bluebeard, The Sleeping Beauty, Puss in Boots; of which there are many parallels in folklore tales of many countries such as Cinderella, Riquet with the Tuft and Little Tom Thumb. Also an introductory note by William H. Whitmore in John Newberry’s “The Original Mother Goose’s Melody,” around 1760. “On the frontispiece is an old woman, spinning and telling tales to a man, a girl, a little boy, and a cat. .. Some writers connect the legend of Mother Goose with Queen Goose-foot Reine Pedance, said to be the mother of King Charlemagne.”

 Halloween and Hollywood

Here are a few of my favorite movie choices that you might enjoy; all are G to PG 13 rated. 
#1 on my list, Disney’s Halloweentown series. There’s Disney’s Hocus Pocus, Watcher in the Woods (super suspenseful but not gorey – look for Bette Davis), That Darn Cat (not really about Halloween, but funny anyway), Mr. Boogedy, Bride of Boogedy and The Legend of Sleepy Hollow (remember Ichabod Crane?) Then there are the Harry Potterseries, Meet Me in St. Louis, and of course, The Wizard of Oz and Return to Oz.  Some of these are fairly intense and you might share them with older children. There are Halloween movies for younger children featuring Winnie the Pooh, Casper the Friendly Ghost and other children’s literary characters.

Also check out television’s The Addams Family and The Munsters.

With a son in the military, I have a special place in my heart for those who serve our country and their families who support them. My son is overseas for 3 years and this is his son’s 1st Halloween. So for Ender and all of his kindred spirits this hour’s for you! 

These treats were deployed to Afghanistan to a special unit there. I have a sneaking suspicion that the other soldiers didn’t get their goldfish crackers. Andrew? 

Read up on fun and creative ideas for your Halloween in 

Watch this spot next week for an article in US News and World Report that I contributed to!

Image result for honey


Lemon and honey are a sunny, unseparable pair in many recipes. Enjoy the duo in this slightly less-guilty delicious dessert. Prepare the graham cracker crust first, then add the filling and bake.
Serves: 16
Graham Cracker Crust
1½ cups graham cracker crumbs (use gluten-free if desired)
¼ cup sugar
¼ cup butter, melted
In a mixing bowl combine all ingredients and press evenly into the bottom and partway up the sides of a 9-inch springform pan. Set aside. Heat oven to 325 degrees.
Cheesecake Filling
40 ounces Neufchatel cheese (reduced-fat cream cheese)
½ cup honey
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup low-fat sour cream or plain yogurt
¾ cup lemon juice
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest, save additional zest for garnish
4 eggs
additional honey, thinly sliced lemon for garnish
In a large mixing bowl combine the cream cheese, honey, flour, sour cream, lemon juice and lemon zest. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Pour filling into crust. Set the pan on a foil-covered baking sheet and place in center of oven.
Bake at 325 degrees for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until center of filling is almost set. Cool. Run a knife around the sides of the pan to loosen crust, unhook the hinge of the springform pan and remove the outer ring.

Refrigerate cheesecake several hours or overnight before serving. Slice and drizzle with additional honey, add a lemon slice and zest to each bee-licious serving.

This rich and delicious treat is very popular with pumpkin pie fans. Friends and followers on Pinterest have been uploading this recipe in record numbers; it is easy to make.

This is my son Andrew’s favorite Pumpkin Pie Cake.


        Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

        From a box of yellow cake mix, remove one cup and set           aside. Make crust by combining remaining cake mix with:

1 egg

½ cup butter, melted and cooled                         
        Pat into bottom of a 9’ x 13” baking pan. 

        Mix together:        

4 eggs, slightly beaten
1 large can pumpkin
1 ½ cups sugar
½ tsp. salt
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
½ tsp. ground cloves
½ tsp. ground nutmeg
(or  1/12 tsp pumpkin pie spice and 1 tsp. cinnamon)
2 (12 oz.) cans evaporated milk
        Pour over crust. Set aside. Mix together and  sprinkle over   

       pumpkin filling:

reserved cup of cake mix
½ cup sugar
1 ½ tsp. cinnamon
½ cup butter, softened
1 C. chopped pecans (optional)
        Bake approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes or until pumpkin is set. 

        Serve warm with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.

Check out the Good Hosekeeping retro costume parade: #4 and #40 

Pumpkin sweats remain a no-brainer for kiddie costumes: They're cute, classic and easy to run around in. Plus, you can get creative with your parent costume. This Mama scarecrow even has a teensy crow on her shoulder.