Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy All Hallow's Eve

Shadows of a thousand years rise again unseen,
Voices whisper in the trees, "Tonight is Halloween!"
Dexter Kozen

Growing up Catholic, I knew that Halloween was the night before All Saint's Day.  Halloween was the night were ghosts and goblins came up and haunted the earth.  We dressed up not to celebrate the day, but to confuse the ghosts.  As I became older, I learned that All Saint's Day was a Catholic holiday that was created to offset a pagan holiday, Halloween.

Out of curiousity, I did a little research.  I learned that Halloween or All Hallow's Eve was a Celtic holiday called Samhain, and pronounced sow-in, usually celebrated on October 31st, the day before the Celtic New Year, November 1st.  The festival of Samhain celebrates the end of the "lighter half" of the year and beginning of the "darker half".  The ancient Celts believed that the border between this world and the Otherworld became thin on Samhain, allowing spirits (both harmless and harmful) to pass through. The family's ancestors were honoured and invited home whilst harmful spirits were warded off. It is believed that the need to ward off harmful spirits led to the wearing of costumes and masks. Their purpose was to disguise oneself as a harmful spirit and thus avoid harm. Halloween, Wikipedia

In 835, Pope Gregory IV moved the celebration for all the martyrs (later all saints) from May 13 to November 1. The night before became known as All Hallow’s Even or “holy evening.” Eventually the name was shortened to the current Halloween. On November 2, the Church celebrates All Souls Day.  The purpose of these feasts is to remember those who have died, whether they are officially recognized by the Church as saints or not. It is a celebration of the “communion of saints,” which reminds us that the Church is not bound by space or time. Halloween, Faith-filled Family

I personally never liked scary costumes, but now I understand their purpose - they were made to scare off the harmful spirits.  Many children do not realize this, so I guess it's part of my job to let them know what they are doing.  When they just thought of how horrid, gory, and scary they could look, these little demons,  witches, and vampires were warding or scaring off bad stuff, so only good stuff can happen to them.  Turn something negative into something positive - yah.

Oh, I found out that the tradition of carving pumpkins really started as the tradition of carving turnips.  The Celts would carve out the inside of turnips, and put a lighted candle in them, to ward off bad spirits.  When the Irish Catholics came to America, they found that pumpkins were a larger substitute for the turnip.  Interesting.

Easy Recipe

I know that I have used this recipe before, but it is so good, and appropriate for this time of the year.

Candy Apple Salad

8 oz. cream cheese
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla

Cream until blended. 
Fold in 8 oz whipped topping.
Mix in 3 cups of chopped apples, and 1 cup of nuts if desired.

Fairy Tales

Will the princess' kiss turn the toad into a handsome prince?
Really, she's a lion, and he's a dinosaur.

Aunt Janet's Famous Sayings

Halloween is a children's holiday.  Being childless, coupled with the fact that I hardly get any trick or treaters and I have really good candy, it's always been a difficult holiday for me.  So, whenever one of my nieces or nephews surprise me, I always tell them "You are my favorite niece/nephew because you remembered me on Halloween, and I don't have to cry."  My nieces and nephews are aged 16 and above, so if one of them comes over for Halloween, it's special (and they want to steal all my chocolate candy)!!

Happy All Hallow's Eve,
Aunt Janet

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Daddy's Goodbye

Click to play this Smilebox scrapbook: Puppy
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My wife likes to say that Puppy was brought to us by God.  I don't know about that but by God I love her.

One day, while working in the yard, a little girl, dragging a dog on a leash, came to me.  She told me this dog was a stray and her parents wouldn't let her keep it.  Knowing we owned dogs, she wondered if we would take care of her puppy.  I asked Janet if that would be alright and she said yes.

Being a stray, Janet and I set out to find the owner of this energetic puppy.  We printed and posted “Found” posters in all the usual places around town.  In the mean time, we had to call this dog something, so we called her what she was, Puppy.

Time past and no one claimed her. Janet and I now had a new member of the family, and it was now time to give her a name.  All the traditional names, like “Spot” or “Rover”, just didn't fit.  The more creative names, like “Tiger” or “Killer”, just would get no response from her, but say “Puppy, what would you like to be named?” and her ears immediately perked up. Thus “Puppy” became a member of our family.

Now, it's been 11 years of pure joy “Puppy” has given Janet and me. Five months ago, “Puppy” was diagnosed with cancer. Since then, we have struggled with the question “when is it time to say goodbye?”

Several months ago, I first saw a TV commercial produced by the SPCA. It depicts several abused and abandoned dogs and cats. Each one reached through the TV screen with their sad and wanting eyes to say “help me.” Their expressions touched me to the verge of tears, and, whenever this commercial comes on, I have to change the channel, because their eyes talk to me of the pain and loneliness.

So, last Sunday afternoon, I looked into Puppy's eyes, and they talked to me of her love for Janet, and also that it was time to say goodbye. That evening, we respected her wishes with all the love we could give.

Goodbye Puppy and we love you!
Daddy (Uncle Todd)

P.S. Thanks Jess for typing.  Aunt Janet wouldn't have been able to do it.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

On Angel's Wings

Eleven years ago or so, an Angel was sent to me straight from heaven. 
Head on my shoulder, on Angel's wings she flew back to heaven tonight.
Puppy, my baby, my companion, my best friend, went back to heaven tonight!

Puppy - Remember that I will always love you,

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Time of Harvest

For man, autumn is a time of harvest, of gathering together.
For nature, it is a time of sowing, of scattering abroad.
Edwin Way Teale

I went into the garden today.  With the brisk wind at my face, and two sweatshirts keeping me warm, I gathered the end of the harvest.  The frost might come tonight.

It's a time of harvesting the fruits of your labor, of preserving the fruits of your harvest, of readying oneself for the cold winter months.  In preparation, I have taken this week off - to harvest, preserve, slow down, and enjoy the bounty of His Goodness.

I picked every vegetable that would be harmed by the frost.  As the leaves fell around me, I remember.  Autumn brings a sense of warming to my spirit.  To me, it brings back memories of falling in love.

I found a quote by von fiona.  "The summer months are ideal for flirting, but the time for falling in love has only just begun."  It's a time for cuddling, keeping warm, holding hands while walking in the midst of the autumn color, or cocooning indoors talking and learning about each other.  The cooling temperature draws us closer together for warmth, not just of the body, but of the emotions. 

Summer flirts bring small jolts of happiness felt in the depths of your being.  Autumn loves bring long waves of warming of your heart.

I love autumn with all its majestic color.  It's a time for harvesting, preserving, enjoying the warmth of the home, and falling in love!


Today, I picked the last of the harvest - a few cucumbers and peppers, all tomatoes, red and green, and the rest of the beans.  For drying, I cut down my herbs that were planted in the garden, and brought in the herb pots for winter flavoring.

I will wrap the green tomatoes in newspaper, put them in a paper bag, and place the bag in a cool place, where they can ripen slowly.

This week, I will pull up all the dead plants, either put them in the compost pile or burn them, and  rack up the ground.  I'll also check on my cold weather plants to see if they are ready for picking.  And I'll plant the mums I haven't gotten around to plant yet.

Money Making Tip

At the end of this week, two friends and I are having a "Celebrate Fall" sale at our township hall.  We will be selling our direct sales products to whoever would like to attend.  I feel that time as gone by too quickly, and I am behind in my preparations.  The hall is rented, some products have been ordered, the ad has been placed in the local papers, and the invitations are printed.  I need to pass out the invitations, send out emails, and go to local businesses to ask them if I can post a sign.  I'm also thinking about what I should do for outside signs, and where I should place them.  Even though I am starting this vacation week feeling overwhelmed, I know that everything will fall into place, and we will make contacts and sales. 

If you have a home business, think of getting together with a couple more direct sales friends and putting together a holiday sale.  This is a way to make extra money for the holidays, and hopefully expand your clientele.  If anything, you will have loads of fun with your friends.

By the way, if you live anywhere near Braidwood, Illinois, and you would like to hear more about this event, please email me at  The companies that will be represented are:  Mary Kay (my party), and my 3 businesses (tasty foods, cool kitchen gadgets, and beautiful jewelry).  You know I'm not allowed to say it in my blog. 

Here is a site that talks about the beautiful jewelry - Click Here!  If you'd like to know about the tasty food, become my friend on Facebook - Click Here!  This company posts on my page all the time.  As for my kichen gadgets, you'll just have to think about that one.  If you would like a catalog, or to place an order, please email me at

Free Stuff

Free Sample of Kelloggs(r) Special K cereal
Free sample of Honey Nut Cheerios(r)
Free Sample of Nestle Abuelita Granulado

Preserving the Harvest,
Aunt Janet

Monday, October 05, 2009

Blaming Others?

When you blame others, you give up your power to change.
Dr. Robert Anthony

How many times do you want to blame your situation on someone else, when, in reality, you allowed the situation to happen? Maybe you innocently put your trust in someone. Or you did not have the knowledge of how a person truly was. Perhaps, you felt that another person's inappropriate actions gave you a right to act inappropriately yourself, but you reasoned that it was all their fault.

At times, it felt like someone else was to blame. Yes, maybe their actions or words were wrong, but it's up to you whether you pick up the ball - whether you take it to heart, whether you do something to change the situation, and /or whether you let them get in the way of you changing.

It makes me think of how so many people blame their spouse, child, parent, or business partner for getting them in the financial situation they are in. They bounce checks, but you let them keep the checkbook, or you keep your name on the checkbook. You co-sign a loan, and they don't pay. You were the one that signed the loan papers, not them, and you are equally responsible for the loan. Your business collapses because your partner lets his family take things for free. You went into business with this partner, it was your decision.

I could go on and on with examples - infidelity, addiction, untrustworthiness. Yet, in all these, something drew us into the relationship, something attracted us to the person, it was our choice. When we let go of the blame game, we, alone, take control over our life. If a spouse cheats once, okay maybe it was a mistake, twice, they have a problem with commitments, they are easily bored, ... If we decide to sit on our pity pot and say it's all their fault, how is it their fault when we are the ones that tolerate the action. It becomes our issue, something that we have to learn to set boundaries with, and only we have the power to change it.

Now, there is the opposite side of the coin - when you take blame for other's mistakes. After having a long talk with my sister about the perils of going to a Catholic school, I started writing this blog with the intention of trying to figure out why I say I'm sorry for things I had no control over, and why I always try to figure out what I did wrong in a situation, but somehow, when I began to write, the other side of the coin was facing up. I guess some time in the future, I will take on the topic of how the nuns put the fear of God in us. For anyone who went to a Catholic school, you understand. For the rest, know that the nuns sometimes used threats of eternal damnation to get us to act a certain way, and it's stuck in our heads even now. (Okay - not all of them - just the mean ones.  hehe)

Money Savings Tip

Because of the mild abrasiveness and cleaning agent, toothpaste is a great stain fighter.  "Stick with standard paste, not gel, and steer clear of formulas designed for tartar control and whitening," says Siegel-Maier. "These often contain chemicals and additional abrasives that can damage items such as fine silver."

You can use it to clean:
  • Acrylic accessories (such as desktop organizers): Squeeze toothpaste onto a toothbrush and work it into scratches until they diminish. Wipe residue off with a cloth.
  • Chrome fixtures: To polish faucets and taps in the kitchen or bathroom, smear a dime-size amount of toothpaste onto them, then buff with a soft cloth until they shine.
  • Scuffed linoleum: Reduce marks by scrubbing them with toothpaste and a dry cloth until no toothpaste residue remains.
  • Piano keys: Rub each key carefully with a damp cotton swab and a dollop of toothpaste. Wipe dry and buff with a clean cloth.
  • Tarnished silverware: Put a dab of toothpaste on a soft cloth, rub it onto the tarnish, then rinse with water and dry with a clean cloth.
  • Steam iron: Mineral deposits can stain an iron's soleplate. Apply a dab of toothpaste and work it into the plate. Use a clean cloth to remove residue.
(I found this on a website, but failed to write down the site.  So, to whomever's site I borrowed this from, thank you and all credit goes to you.  I would site you if I could remember when this came from.)

Easy Recipe

For the gardeners that do their second planting of plants from the cabbage family, I love this salad and hope you do, too!

1 head of broccoli, chopped
1 head of cauliflower, chopped
1 red onion, diced
1 lb. uncooked bacon, cooked until crispy, or 1 pkg cooked bacon
8 oz. mozzarella cheese, shredded
1 cup mayonnaise
1 cup sugar

Crumble bacon.  Mix broccoli, cauliflower, bacon, onion, and cheese together.

In separate bowl, mix mayonnaise and sugar together.  Pour over salad and mix.  Refrigerate for one hour, stir again, and serve.

Aunt Janet's Famous Sayings

Okay, I have a brain freeze and I need help.  There's a word similar to dumb or stupid that means being ignorant of the fact or lacking the knowledge to make a rational decision.  When my nieces and nephews were young and bickering (yes, they did do plenty of that), they sometimes would use this word against their sibling.  They used as if it meant stupid or dumb, and I use to always correct them with the appropriate meaning - ignorant of the fact or lacking knowledge.  I have a total brain freeze, and, even after countless phone calls to grown nieces and nephews (and my siblings), I still can't remember.  Help!

Warming up,
Aunt Janet
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