“Spirits & Salutations”–Get your spook on right here!


This Halloween I’m delighted to have the entertaining and gifted Virginia Campbell share some spooky tales and tasty recipes with us.

Take it away, Virginia.~

I am very, very lucky to have wonderful memories of Halloween from my childhood. We lived in a big house with a large foyer. Every Halloween, my wonderful Gran would prepare an amazing array of treats, good eats, hot cocoa and apple cider. All the kids in the neighborhood called her “Gran”, and they knew to come to my house for extra-special Halloween goodies. They could also rest at our house for a while before resuming their trick or treating.

Gran would even buy boxes of apples from the grocer, wash and dry those apples until they shined, and then line them back up in their trays. I can still see the hallway table filled with rows of shiny bright red apples! I come from a candy-loving family, so Halloween was prime time. Back in those days, you trick or treated with a big, brown paper grocery bag, which usually got filled at least a couple of times. You had to make a pit stop back home, unload, and then hit the Halloween treat trail once again!

One of my most memorable Halloweens will forever be known as “Night of the Bear”. This is a true story, part of the local history of my little railroad home town. Mom took me trick or treating that night, and we were almost done, just about two blocks from home, when we saw a very realistic looking bear-costumed trick or treater. That’s right, bear. Big, full-sized bear. Furry and growly. Mom even waved and said: “Great costume!”

We reached our front door a few minutes later, and my frantic Gran grabbed us and pulled us inside. “Thank God, you’re all right!” said Gran. “There’s a bear loose in town, and it’s been sighted in our neighborhood!”. Well, I was excited! Not Mom! She turned white as a sheet ghost and slumped to the floor. That was Mom’s last year to go trick or treating. I was a good kid, though–I still shared my candy with her each year!

A Vampire’s soul mate….

Ages of Love, by Virginia Campbell

Some time ago, fifty years past,
I met you, and you took my heart.
I stand beside you now,
As you take your last breath.
Though I have lived many centuries,
These years lived with you,
Yet without you, are all that is real.
I gave you a choice, life eternal or life apart.
You thought to let me go, but I was never far.
I danced with you at your wedding.
Rejoiced at the birth of your child.
Shared your sorrow as war took your son.
I watched as silver touched your hair, and
Your face became soft and lined.
He never deserved you, the man who shared your life.
You are my love, my heart and soul.
My forever wife.
I will not leave you now that your heart no longer beats.
I could not bear to never more look into your eyes.
I will hold your hand and await my own end.
The curtain is drawn, and the light filters in.
This is the final sunrise.~

My favorite Werewolf movie (and my Mom’s too) is the damned and doomed Leon from the 1961 British film “The Curse of the Werewolf“, Oliver Reed (Burnt Offerings, The Three Musketeers) is powerfully compelling as Leon, a young man destined to be a werewolf due to the evil circumstances of his birth. If you are a true Were fan, you must see this film. Awesome! The wonderfully imaginative and sensual paranormal romances from today’s creative authors shine a whole new light on Weres–more than just moonlight! Poor Leon deserves a second chance at happiness–a re-write with bite ; )

A lot of myths and tall tales started with a little nugget of truth and embellished it until it became a legend. Paranormal fiction is intriguing because it takes our fascination with fearsome things to a whole new level! Many of us have had unexplainable “supernatural” events in our lives, which leaves the door open for our imaginations.

I have lived in the same house for over 30 years. My mother and I owned the house together. She passed away several years ago. I have had many paranormal experiences in my home, both before and after my mother passed away.

The first strange experience was glancing over at a living room window late one night and seeing the “Scream” face looking in! I rushed to the door and turned on the front porch light, and not a “soul” was about! Another time, on Halloween night, I heard distinct footsteps on the wooden floor of the upstairs hallway. My mother and I were both downstairs and no other “human” was in the house. On another night, I went upstairs to my room without turning on the stairway light. When I got to the doorway of my room, a large misty shape moved from the area of the doorway and went across the room and out the window. Some of the occurrences happened in full daylight.

One bright Sunday morning, I had overslept, which for me is a rare occurrence. A voice from the doorway of my room said: “Are you getting up?” I looked over through sleep-filled eyes and saw the blurred image of a large friendly blonde woman dressed in red and royal blue. I answered, and then realized it wasn’t my mother! The “woman” was twice the size of my mother (who was actually downstairs in the kitchen).

Since my mother passed away, I have noticed unusual scents in the house. I have smelled my grandfather’s pipe tobacco, my grandmother’s lily of the valley perfume, and my mother’s fingernail polish remover. All of these people are deceased, and none of those items are in the house! The time that I was the most afraid was when I came home to find my house almost in a vacuum state. There seemed to be no air, no sound, and no smell of any kind in the house. My cats were in hiding. I don’t know what had been in the house, but it had some kind of mojo! I still live in my “spooky house” : )

Here’s an even stranger true fact: I lost my job in 11/2009, and I was unemployed for over a year. During that time everything in the house settled, and there was not one strange occurrence. I stayed at home 99% of the time, working on my computer, reading, entertaining my cats, and making bread. I think “the house” was glad to have me at home. I’ve been back at work for a while now, and so far, so good!!!

I’d love to hear your Halloween memories, haunted house tales, ghost stories, and your experiences with those strange supernatural things that give you goose bumps and raise the hair on the back of your neck.

Come, dearie, do tell all…..

Some sweets, good eats, and tantalizing treats!

Warmer Chowder

8 slices bacon, chopped, 1 lb. skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut in bite-size pieces, salt & pepper to taste,  1 large red sweet bell pepper, chopped, 1 large sweet onion, chopped, 1 to 2 fresh jalapeño peppers, finely chopped, 4 cloves garlic, minced, 1/3 cup all-purpose flour, 6 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth, 2 large Yukon gold potatoes, chopped, 2 cups fresh sweet corn kernels, 1-1/2 cups whipping cream, 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper, 2 bay leaves, jalapeño slices, shredded Monterey Jack or mild Cheddar cheese, sourdough croutons

In a 5- to 6-quart Dutch oven cook bacon until crisp. Remove with spoon; set aside. Reserve 1 tablespoon drippings in pan. Add chicken to pan. Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon each salt and black pepper. Stir over medium-high heat until chicken is no longer pink; remove. Add sweet pepper and onion to pan. Cook and stir until tender. Add jalapeños and garlic; cook and stir 3 minutes. Stir in flour. Cook and stir 1 minute. Add broth and potatoes. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Cook, uncovered, 10 minutes or just until potatoes are tender; stirring occasionally. Stir in chicken, corn, cream, cayenne, and bay leaves. Simmer, uncovered, 15 minutes; stir occasionally. Discard bay leaves. Top with jalapeño slices, shredded cheese, and croutons, if desired. Makes 8 servings.

Chili & Cornbread Casserole

1 pound lean ground beef, 2 teaspoons chili powder, 1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes with Mexican seasoning, 2 15-ounce cans kidney beans, 1 cup thick, medium-hot chunky-style salsa, 1 8 1/2-ounce box corn-bread mix, 1 egg, 1/3 cup milk, 1 cup (4 ounces) shredded Monterey Jack or mild Cheddar cheese.

Heat oven to 400F. In a large skillet, over medium heat, brown the ground beef, breaking it up with a spoon, until no trace of pink remains. Spoon off and discard any grease. Add the chili powder beans, tomatoes, and salsa and simmer for 3 minutes. Meanwhile, in a bowl, combine the corn bread mix, egg, and milk, then stir in the cheese. Lightly coat with nonstick cooking spray a 13in x 9in baking dish. Pour the chili mixture into the baking dish, distributing evenly. Spread the corn bread batter evenly over the top. Bake until golden, 15 to 20 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes before serving.

Ginger-Peachy Pear Crisp

1 16-ounce can  peach slices (juice-pack), drained, reserve juice, 1 16-ounce can  pear slices (juice-pack), drained, reserve juice, 1/2 cup  finely crushed gingersnaps, 1/2 cup  quick-cooking rolled oats, 3 tablespoons  brown sugar, reserved juice from fruit, 3 tablespoons brown sugar, pinch of ground ginger, 1 tablespoon real butter

Spray an  8in or 9in baking dish lightly with nonstick cooking spray. Using a large spoon, add fruit to baking dish. Alternate spoons of peaches and pears so that fruit is evenly distributed. In a small mixing, bowl stir together the gingersnaps, oats, and brown sugar. Sprinkle evenly over fruit. Bake in a 425 degree F oven for 15 to 20 minutes or until heated through. While crisp is baking, combine fruit juice, brown sugar, and ground ginger in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to medium-low and continue cooking for two minutes. Remove pan from heat and allow syrup to cool until just warm. Stir in butter. Top each serving of crisp with a scoop of rich vanilla ice cream and drizzle with syrup.

Orange-Glazed Brussels Sprouts & Carrots

2 cups  fresh Brussels sprouts or one 10-ounce package frozen Brussels sprouts, 3 medium carrots, quartered lengthwise and cut into 1-inch pieces, 1/3 cup orange juice, 1 teaspoon cornstarch, 1 teaspoon  sugar, 1/8 teaspoon  ground nutmeg, 1/4 teaspoon  salt

Cut Brussels sprouts in half. In a medium saucepan combine sprouts and carrots. In covered medium saucepan cook in a small amount of boiling water for 10 to 12 minutes or until crisp-tender. Drain well. Return all of the vegetables to pan. In a small bowl stir together the orange juice, cornstarch, sugar, nutmeg, and salt. Add to Brussels sprouts and carrots. Cook and stir the mixture over medium heat until thickened and bubbly. Cook and stir for 1 minute more. Serve immediately. Makes 4 side-dish servings.

Plum Easy Cake

2 cups ripe plums, unpeeled, pitted & diced, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour, 1 tablespoon baking powder, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg, 1/2 cup dark brown sugar, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 2 eggs, lightly beaten, 1 cup vanilla yogurt, 1/4 unsalted butter, melted & cooled, 3 tablespoons sugar

Preheat oven to 400 F. Spray and flour the bottom of either an 8 X 10 baking dish or a 9” square. Place plums in a bowl with lemon juice and set aside. Combine flour, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, brown sugar, and salt in a small bowl. Set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together eggs and yogurt, whisk in melted butter. Add flour mixture to yogurt mixture. Drain off excess liquid from plums. Fold plums into batter. Pour into a baking pan and sprinkle with 3 tablespoons of cane sugar. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean when tested.

Candy Bar Brownies

1 box fudge brownie mix (for 13in x 9in baking pan)
1 box of thin mints or thin chocolate bars (like Andes candies), or larger flat candy bars (like Hershey’s) broken into pieces, or miniature chocolate bars (like Hershey’s miniatures)
if desired for topping, ready-made frosting and sprinkles or crushed hard candies

Prepare brownie mix per box directions. Pour half of batter into greased and floured baking pan. Place candy pieces evenly across batter. Top with remaining batter and bake per box directions. Allow to cool before cutting into squares. If desired, top with frosting and sprinkles or crushed hard candies or peppermints. Also good for any season with candy of your choice. So easy, so good and so pretty!

*Wow, thanks so much for all of this, Virginia.

And now I will close with a last work from my talented guest.

SPELLBOUND

by Virginia Campbell

I can weave a spell, it’s true.

Never one as potent as the one cast by you.

I can make you mine with a potion or brew,

but would you love me still, if you knew?

No warlock, mage, or Merlin are you….

You caught me in a web with your eyes so blue!

Your lover’s arrow has shot me through!

My heart skips a beat as it waits for you.

At last you are here, and you hold me tight.

I breathe in your scent…something is not right!

Another’s perfume clouds the night!

Liar’s eyes…leave my sight!

Do not deny, and spare me your plight!

The mocking crow has taken flight.

Now, a bird of prey has come aright,

Seeking a blue-eyed mouse for dinner tonight!

The hunter has fed, and long since fled.

No lover’s lies left to be said.

Now comes my spell to awake the dead.

Man again, never more will you betray my bed!~

*Pics of Vampire Aidan Turner from Being Human, (because I think he’s hot) Dorian Gray, kitten on a pumpkin taken by daughter Elise, chipmunk on pumpkin taken by my mom,  various other images supplied by Virginia.

27 responses to ““Spirits & Salutations”–Get your spook on right here!

  1. Carioline Clemmons

    Virginia, once again you’ve amazed me. I’ve had several “haunting” experiences, but I wanted to speak to your childhood experiences at Hallowe’en. Isn’t it a shame that now kids don’t experience the lovely treats we did? We made huge popcorn balls for kids, but who would let their child eat them now? Same with candied apples. I remember people inviting us in for hot cocoa and cookies, but no child now would enter someone’s home. At least most churches now have an activity for kids so they don’t totally miss out on the fun. Thanks for another wonderful post!

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  2. Hi, Caroline! Thanks for stopping by–glad you enjoyed the post!

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  3. Wow, you’ve had some interesting experiences. The bear incident makes me shiver. Happy Halloween!

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  4. Hi, NJ : ) Thanks so much! Happy Halloween to you & your husband ; )

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  5. Being from Gettysburg – I have plenty of ghostly encounters – but none as good as your bear story! Great post! Thanks, Virginia!

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  6. I remember getting homemade treats when I was a kid. There always seem to be a grandma in the neighborhood. Sure miss that. I remember seeing shadows in our apt when I was a kid. I know I hated the basement but; I stilled played down there. Had all the lights on though. LOL. After my grandpa passed I felt him with me for many years after. And after my FIL passed I always smelled his tobacco in my(his)car. I used to take my MIL around all the time after. After she passed I no longer smelled it. And when she was dying I felt her hug me right at that moment before she left. That’s as close as I have got. Really enjoyed your post. Happy Halloween everyone.
    Sue B

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  7. A great blog. Loved the pix and the recipes. I remember Curse of the Werewolf because at the time, it was a “different” werewolf movie, and had everyone one in the theater hoping the main character would somehow beat the curse while they knew it couldn’t happen. That’s a great pic of Stuart Townsend on The Immortal. Is that a book cover or was it a movie? If it’s amovie, I’d better look it up!

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    • Thanks Toni. Yes, Viginia has wonderful stories and recipes. I added that particular pic. It’s from the Portrait of Dorian Gray, think it’s a movie, but I’m having so many internet challenges I haven’t been able to go back and check.

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  8. Wonderful post (so interesting to read about your paranormal experiences in your house!) and such delicious-sounding recipes, too!! I’m very much in the mood for that Warmer Chowder today…yum 😉 .

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  9. Wonderful stories! Love reading them. Thanks.
    Pat C

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  10. I’m definitely going to try the plum cake. Thanks!

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  11. the ghosts were lonely! Maybe the smell of all the cooking calmed them!
    LOL! Great blog. I’m for the plum cake too!

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  12. Thank you Virginia, for bringing some of my own Halloween memories back to me. I came from a small town, too, and my dad and a lot of my family worked for the railroad. I can recall that back then most of the treats were home made and no one was afraid to eat them. Because everyone lived so far apart we had to drive from house to house, but it didn’t make it any less fun. Your posts are always so interesting and entertaining!
    Tory

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  13. Absolutely loved your post! Brought back a ton of memories and then got topped off with some mouth watering recipes to boot! Can’t beat that 🙂

    Thanks for sharing…HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

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  14. Wow, Virginia, what a great post. Love the poems, love the recipes, but best of all, love the ghostly experiences! They gave me goosebumps! Actually Halloween isn’t a huge thing here in Australia. Maybe because we’re heading into real summer and it just isn’t that spooky time of year here. HAPPY HALLOWEEN, EVERYONE!

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  15. I’m posting this comment for Nancy Jardine: Great stuff. Love the recipes. My mother used to make apples dipped in ‘Toffee’, and since she was the best around at making them our door was very popular. – Nancy

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  16. Wow! You guys are the greatest! You really know how to lift a gal’s “spirits” ; 0

    Many thanks to Beth Trissel for allowing me to guest blog here at her fabulous site! The more you look around on this site, the more wonders you’ll discover! A very talented and interesting lady, and I am not just saying that because she’s a VA writer : )

    Thank you, Pat! Happy Halloween : )

    Barbara, that plum cake sure sounds good to me too! Thanks a bunch!

    Mary, I think you’re on to an exciting paranormal discovery–ghost food! Thank you : )

    Hey, Tory! One day we will have to compare life in a little railroad town and see what’s different and what’s the same. We’ll swap stories : )

    Hey, Jessica! I bet you have some fabulous ghost stories to tell–maybe even some spooky haunted houses too!

    Hi, Katsrus! Those homemade treats help you get through the scary moments–they’ve always worked for me : )

    Hey, Toni! How fabulous that you rooted for Leon!

    Marilyn–if only I could teach my cats to cook. That way I could come home to a hot cooked meal like that chowder : )

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  17. Hi, Christine! Halloween should always be fun–spooky fun–but still fun : )

    Hey, Anna C! I wondered about Halloween in Australia, but I bet you could scare up some great Outback Tall Tales & Legends : )

    OH, Nancy! Toffee apples–boy, I can smell them and taste them–I want one : )

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  18. Virgina, amazing receipes – perfect for autumn. Thanks so much for sharing. What a story about the bear. My boys would share your reaction, trust me. LOL! Me? Ah… I’d be a little nervous.

    I enjoy a good ghost story, but I don’t have any. I remember I used to watch a show on Saturdays called Creature Double Feature about vampires, ghosts, werewolves, zombies, frankensteins, etc… even godzilla. That used to freak me out. I’d sleep with the covers right up to chin to keep the vampires under my bed away.
    Smiles
    Steph

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  19. Fabuloso, Beth!!!

    Hi, Steph! Thank you so much for visiting. I have a deer story to add now: I live in the mountains of VA, and my little town is surrounded by woods. On my way to work this morning, as I was driving up a little grade that has woodsy hills on both sides, a deer jumped over the hood of my car. If I had been going a little faster, or the deer had been a little slower, then it would have come through the windshield of my car. Quite a fright for Halloween morn!

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  20. Virginia, you kill me!! Your Candy Bar Brownies definitely sparked my interest, if not my sweet tooth! You rock with all these amazing recipes! You really need to publish a cookbook, dear!

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  21. Hey, Renee! Those brownies are one of my most requested recipes. Looking forward to seeing you at “Past the Print” : )

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  22. The chowder sounds heavenly on this rainy day in East Tennessee. Hope you have a wonderful weekend, Virginia. Thanks so much for sharing your recipes and secrets. ;))

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  23. Destiny, thank you so much for commenting! Wow, congrats on Natalie Acres’ first blog tour–48 blogs in 48 hours! You are awesome : )

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  24. Virginia I love it!!!!!

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  25. Thank you so much, Megan! You rock the house, girlfriend : )

    Like

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