Hallowed History


Halloween has never been a favorite of mine, but I am fascinated by the history of this quirky holiday.  While I may not dress up in costume or scare myself with horror movies, I can’t help but celebrate with some fun facts about the origins of Halloween.

The origins of Halloween can be traced back more than 2,000 years to the Celtic festival of Samhain. They celebrated the new year on November 1st, a day associated with the end of summer and the beginning of the cold, dark winter.  This time of year was associated with human death because the Celts believed that on the night before the new year the boundary between the dead and the living became a little blurry. In other words, the ghosts of the dead came to visit on October 31st.


The idea of costumes originated with the Druids who dressed up in animal skins and told each other fortunes while a bonfire raged.  Later, costumes and masks were worn to scare off ghosts or avoid being recognized by dead sprits. To keep these spirits from entering the home, food and wine would be left on the front doorstep. In addition, carved turnips or gourds were illuminated as a means to ward off evil spirits, which eventually evolved into the tradition of carving pumpkins.

By 43 A.D. the Romans conquered most of the Celts and therefore Samhain was combined with Roman festivals. Feralia was a day in late October when the Romans commemorated the passing of the dead, while another day honored the goddess Pomona.  The symbol of Pomona was an apple, which might explain how the tradition of bobbing for apples began.

In the 7th century, Pope Boniface IV declared November 1st as All Saints’ Day to honor all saints and martyrs.  Over time the holiday became known as All-hallows (from Middle English Alholowmesse meaning All Saints’ Day) and the night before, Samhain became known as All-hallow’s Eve.

In 1000 A.D. All Soul’s Day on November 2 became a day to honor the dead.  With this holiday, the trio of All-hallows Eve, All Saints’ and All Souls became known as the Hallowmas and they were celebrated with bonfires, parades, and dressing up in costumes.

Trick-or-treating most likely started in England during All Souls’ Day parades where poor citizens would beg for food and families would give them pastries called “soul cakes.”  These were given in exchange for a promise to pray for the family’s dead relatives.  The practice was known as “going-a-souling” and was eventually taken up by children who would visit homes in their neighborhood and be given ale, food, and money.  The church encouraged this as a means to replace the pagan practice of leaving food outside the door.

Over the course of the 20th century, these origins slowly transformed into modern celebrations of parties, festivals, costumes, haunted houses, and candy.  While the original meaning has been lost, the traditions remain alive and well.  Even though I’m not a fan of anything spooky, I do love the candy.

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On an unrelated note, this is my 100th post!  Yay!

c.b. 2011


Project Art Journal: Page 2


After my flaming experience with Wreck This Journal, (See Ignite the Spark), I thought my days of playing with fire were over, but I was wrong.  It turns out a match is a fantastic craft tool for an art journal!  This week’s page utilizes a number of techniques, including singed edges and a little paper stitching.  I have to say this is one of my favorite pages!

Click for full-size image


  • card stock
  • pages from old travel books
  • crafter’s chalk (my favorite is Craf-T Decorating Chalk)
  • mini brads
  • rubber stamps (words or alphabet)
  • black ink pad
  • jewelry tube or bottle
  • metallic thread
  • match or lighter
  • marker
  • paper piercer
  • cross stitch needle
  • matte finish sealer (aerosol spray)
  • double-stick tape
  • Glue Dots

Layer 1: Foundation

Cut a piece of brown card stock into a square slightly smaller than the paper bag journal page.  Set it aside.

Layer 2: Background

The background for this page is created by using three pages from an old travel book.  I used pages from a 1999 tour book for Ireland.  Libraries and use book stores often have these obsolete editions for a bargain price (mine was $1).  The way I see it, the book may out of its intended use, but it still has a purpose in the craft world.

Use a foam applicator to smear chalk over each of the three travel book pages.  To create a textured look, vary the pressure used to spread the chalk.  Choose a color that has at least three shades in the palette.  I used three shades of brown that compliment each other and the card stock foundation.  Tip: Foam eye shadow applicators work really well with crafter’s chalk.  They are larger than the applicators that typically come in a set of chalk and they are inexpensive.

To seal the chalk, use a matte finish spray sealer, (an easy thing to find in the art section of most craft stores). Spray from at least 6 inches if not further to prevent moisture spots.

Once the pages are dry to the touch, grab a match or a lighter.  Very carefully, burn one edge on each page.  It only takes a few seconds so be ready to blow out the fire before it eats up the whole page.  Tip: Complete this step over the kitchen sink for quick access to water in case something goes wrong.

Use double stick tape to layer the pages one on top of the other, leaving about an inch and a half to two inches of space between each layer.  Be sure to arrange the layers so they will fit the width of Layer 1’s card stock square. Measure and cut the layers to a size that is a little smaller than the card stock square.  Attach Layer 2 to Layer 1.

Layer 3: Spiral Stitch

I used a stencil to create the spiral on this page, but it’s just as easy to free hand a design.  With a paper piercer poke a series of holes along the design as evenly as possible.  Eyeball the spacing between the holes to the size of a basic stitch.

Thread a cross stitch needle (with a thin eye) with metallic thread.  Push the needle up through the first hole and then down through the second, up through the third hold and back down into the second, then back up through the fourth.  Repeat this pattern for the whole design and tape the ends down on the back.  It takes a little time, but the result is worth the work. Tip:  Paper stitching is a lot like back stitching in cross stitch.

Choose a quote to incorporate into the spiral design and pencil it in before using a marker.

Layer 4: Embellishments

Pull another page out of an old travel book and chalk it up with a new shade.  Slice a strip off the page and cut it to fit the size of Layer 1.  Use rubber stamps to add words or phrases to the strip. Stick the strip down using double stick tape.

With a paper piercer poke holes along the strip and add mini brads.

The little tube along the right hand side is something I picked up in the jewelry/bead aisle at my local craft store.  Cut another strip from the last travel book page and stamp a new word or phrase. Roll it up and slide it into the tube, so the word is visible.  Secure the ends of the tube with small glue dots.

Attach the tube by tying metallic thread to the end loops, (leave long tails).  Lay the tube on the page and pierce holes through all layers at each end of the tube.  The thread should go right into the hole easily, but the cross stitch needle can also be used to pull the thread through.  Tape the ends down on the back.

Attach the whole thing to the paper bag journal page, using double stick tape along the edges and over any thread tails to keep them firmly in place.

Whew!  Sit back and enjoy your beautiful page.

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Next time, it’s all about collage and hardware.  Stay inspired!

c.b. 2011

Wreck This Journal: Leap!


Sometimes I wonder if my muse and fate have an alliance going.  Whenever I question my next move or let a nasty little thing called doubt creep into my mind, something happens to give me a good old-fashioned kick in the butt.  In this case, fate and my muse arranged for this week’s Wreck This Journal page to catch my attention.  The instructions essentially call for flinging my journal from a high place.

Luckily, I live in a two story house with a vault ceiling.  The second floor hallway is open with a view of the living room, which means there is plenty of room for a little journal flinging.  Once I checked to make sure there were no cats or dogs anywhere near the “drop zone” I sent my journal over the edge.  To make things a bit more interesting, I threw it so it would flip a few times on the way down.  My journal flew like a stone and hit an end table before it landed on the floor.

The flipping action kept the book from closing on the way down, so a few pages were bent and the binding took yet another hit.  Other than that, the damage was relatively minor.  I documented my journal’s descent with a little doodle and some crayons.   While I sat drawing a set of stairs and the splat of my journal on the floor, the epiphany of this whole experience became very clear.

Life is all about taking that leap.   Whether it be jumping on a plane to explore all the places on my bucket list or diving headfirst into the challenge of teaching high school, I’ve always believed every good thing worth having requires a little courage and gumption. Even when the cliff is so high the bottom can’t be seen . . . I’ve got to buck up and jump!  The same is true with my current endeavor into the realm of writing.  My novel is done, my query letter is written, and a synopsis is on the horizon.  I have to stop doubting and procrastinating.  It’s time to jump.  Before the month of November is done, I’m going to send out at least three query letters.

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For previous posts in this series, look for “Wreck This Journal” on my sidebar in “Recent Posts” or in my tag cloud.

c.b. 2011

Music For a New Novel


My second novel began with a single sentence that popped into my head while I was at work.  I hardly know what is real.  I wrote it down and it lead to a notebook filled with an outline, pictures, and sketches, (I will be posting something about my new notebook . . . stay tuned!).  The story materialized in my imagination with such a vibrant presence, it’s as if it was there all along. While an exciting prospect, it’s also overwhelming as the scope of the story is larger than anything I’ve ever been inspired to write.  However, much like Noah haunted me, (See One Photograph Changed Everything), so are two new main characters: Amanda and Ian.  This is a story I must tell, even though the subject matter will require a lot of research.  From what I know of them so far, I think my history degree is going to come in handy!

While writing my first novel, I discovered music can be a powerful element in piecing together a story, (See How Music Help Me Write a Novel).  As I embark on writing my second novel, I am in the midst of creating a brand new playlist that is already giving my main characters more depth and providing loads of inspiration as I work out the storyline.  It’s amazing how one creative avenue lends a hand to another!

When creating a new playlist, I search through my music library to find tracks that will fit characters, shape the story line, and  create an overall tone or ambience for the novel as a whole.  This story is very different from anything I’ve worked on as it carries a deep message, but also has an air of whimsy and fantasy.  Picking out music to fit this odd combination has been nothing short of an odyssey, but I think I’ve finally got a playlist that will take me to the last line.

Story Soundtrack:

Sorry, but the story line is classified information!  Perhaps, this section of the playlist list will pique some curiosity!

From Delerium’s album, Karma

  • Enchanted
  • Twilight
  • Silence
  • Forgotten Worlds
  • Euphoria (Firefly)

From Mysteria’s album, Tempting the Muse

  • Elixir for Sunsets
  • Lift
  • The Loveliest Sin
  • Star Gazer

Time Is Running Out – Muse

Angels – Owl City

Vanilla Twilight -Owl City

At First Sight – Yanni

Rites of Passage – Yanni

On Sacred Ground – Yanni

Midnight Hymn – Yanni

Teardrop – Massive Attack

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Amanda’s Music:

Amanda doesn’t just march to the beat of a different drum, she creates an entirely new beat in her head.  She is a staunch individualist, but finds herself stuck in a situation she can’t escape without a little help.  Indie rock and the revolutionary music of The Beatles truly capture her vibe.

The Beatles – every album, but Yellow Submarine in particular

Death Cab for Cutie’s albums, The Open Door EP, Plans, Transatlanticism, Narrow Stairs

The Morning Benders’ album, Talking Through Tin Cans

Junip’s album, Fields

Freelance Whales’ album, Weathervanes

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Ian’s Music:

Ian is tricky!  I’m still working on him as he is an interesting character that continues to reveal his secrets in small doses.  He isn’t what he seems at first glance and he often resists my attempts to root him out.

Falling Away With You – Muse

Butterflies & Hurricanes – Muse

Lamentation – Delerium

Wisdom – Delerium

Tempting the Muse – Mysteria

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Ian & Amanda’s Soundtrack:

Another work in progress.  These two are a very secretive couple and they only tell me so much at a time.  At the moment Ian is doing most of the talking and I’m waiting for Amanda to jump in and tell her side, (any day now, sweetie.  I’m listening).

Starlight – Muse

Endlessly – Muse

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Tone & Ambience:

Owl City’s albums, All Things Bright and Beautiful and Ocean Eyes

Remembrance – Delerium

Closer to Heaven -Myseria

Awake Inside A Dream – Mysteria

Written on the Wind – Yanni

Nightingale – Yanni

Adiemus – Adiemus

Return to Innocence – Enigma

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Well, I’ve either got a great soundtrack that will serve as an endless source of inspiration or I’ve done nothing more than prove I have one strange collection of music!  Either way, my muse has plenty of juice and I hope she helps me write what I think will be an interesting piece of work.

c.b. 2011