I love to DIY and so do my sisters, we don’t always have time but we make it a day when we do! Lots of friends and family are surprised when they find out how easy some projects are to do. And the supplies will run you less than you think. These days everyone wants to be more aware of what they are putting on their body as much as what goes into their body. Depending on what you want to try food, beauty, or home decor here are a few things you might like. I am also going to share the different apps and links I come across that maybe others are interested in.
The countdown is on so if your menu is not finalized here are a few other options for a missing casserole. Our friends at http://www.loveandlemons.com never lets us down especially for my vegan guest:
Butternut Squash Casserole
- 2 cups cubed butternut squash
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided, plus more for drizzling
- 1 heaping cup chopped leeks, white and light green parts, rinsed well
- 2 celery stalks, chopped
- ¼ cup dry white wine
- 3 garlic cloves, minced (or 5 cloves roasted garlic from this recipe, minced)
- Heaping ¼ cup chopped fresh sage, plus about 12 small leaves
- 2 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary
- Heaping 5 cups cubed sourdough bread (1-inch cubes)
- 1½ cups vegetable broth, more if needed
- 8 tiny pearl onions, peeled and sliced in half
- ¼ cup dried cranberries
- ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Preheat the oven to 400°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the butternut squash cubes on the pan and toss with a drizzle of olive oil and generous pinches of salt and freshly ground black pepper. Roast 25 minutes or until tender.
- Reduce the oven heat to 350°F and lightly grease or spray a 7.5×10-inch (or similar) pan with olive oil.
- In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Add the leeks, celery, and generous pinches of salt and pepper and cook until translucent, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add the garlic, chopped sage, and rosemary and stir. Add the wine, stir, and cook for 30 seconds.
- Stir in the bread, then 1 cup of the broth, and gently toss until the bread cubes are evenly coated. Transfer to a baking dish and drizzle on the remaining ½ cup of broth, especially over areas that may seem dry. Evenly distribute the butternut squash, pearl onions, and sage leaves through the spaces between the bread. Drizzle 1 tablespoon of olive oil on top along with a few more pinches of salt and pepper.
- Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until the bread is golden brown on top. Sprinkle on the cranberries and chopped parsley, and serve.
Sweet Potato Casserole
- 5 large sweet potatoes
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, more for drizzling
- 1 1/4 cup almond milk, more if necessary
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
- ½ cup fresh sage leaves
- ⅓ cup whole rolled oats
- ¼ cup pecans, more for garnish
- ¼ cup walnuts, more for garnish
- ½ garlic clove
- 2 teaspoons maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- ¼ teaspoon dried thyme leaves
- ¼ teaspoon minced fresh rosemary
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
- Preheat the oven to 425°F. Line a baking sheet with foil and brush an 8×11-inch baking dish, or similar, with olive oil.
- Use a fork to poke a few holes into the sweet potatoes. Place on the baking sheet and roast until very tender, about 60 minutes.
- Make the crumble topping: In a food processor, place the oats, pecans, walnuts, garlic, maple syrup, olive oil, thyme, rosemary, and salt and pulse until just combined. Remove and set aside.
- Scoop the cooked sweet potato flesh out of the skins and place in a food processor. Add the olive oil, almond milk, ginger, salt, and several grinds of pepper and process to combine. Spread the mixture into the baking dish.
- Sprinkle with the crumble topping, additional nuts, and sage. Drizzle with olive oil and bake 20 minutes or until the topping is browned and crisp.
- 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 1 cup coarsely chopped cipollini onions
- 3 cups chopped & stemmed mushrooms, mix of shiitakes & creminis
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 stalks celery, diced
- 1/4 cup chopped sage, plus 8 leaves for garnish
- 2 tablespoons minced rosemary
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 5 cups cubed crusty ciabatta + nine-grain bread*
- 3 lacinato kale leaves, coarsely chopped or torn
- 2 cups vegetable broth, plus more for reheating
- 1/4 cup dried cranberries
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Preheat the oven to 350°F and grease an 8×12 or 9×13 casserole dish.
- In a very large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions, mushrooms, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and several grinds of fresh pepper, and let the mushrooms cook until they begin to soften, 5 to 8 minutes, stirring only occasionally. Add the garlic, celery, sage, and rosemary, and cook until everything is soft and the mushrooms are golden brown, 8-10 minutes.
- Add the balsamic vinegar, stir, and scrape any bits off the bottom of the pan. Add the bread and the remaining 1/4 cup olive oil and toss to coat. Add the kale and cook until it begins to wilt, about 1 minute. Add 1 cup of the broth and stir.
- Transfer to a casserole dish and pour the remaining 1 cup broth evenly over the stuffing.
- Sprinkle with the dried cranberries, remaining whole sage leaves and bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Let sit for at least 15 minutes or until ready to serve.
To reheat, add a bit more stock and bake until warmed through and slightly crisp on top.*Crusty bakery bread works best in this recipe. Soft sandwich bread will become too soggy.
Well the Holidays are here and that means eating, eating, more eating! Since the gyms has not been an option for most of the year here is a suggestion. Maybe skip asking Santa for lots of little present and ask for one big one that will help you stay lean for the coming year:
1 BEST OVERALL YOSUDA Indoor Cycling Bike
The YOSUDA. Haven’t you heard of it? That’s probably because the company only makes exercise bikes. This is a super quiet, belt-driven bike that won’t drown out the TV while you’re getting in your afternoon workout.
Overall, the YOSUDA is a good bike with a killer 30-day full refund guarantee and 1-year free parts replacement warranty. While this bike is definitely made with the budget-conscious in mind, it’s also one of the most highly rated on Amazon with over 700 reviews and 4.3/5 stars as of this writing.
2 BEST FOR BEGINNERS Cyclace Indoor Exercise Bike
The Cyclace Indoor Exercise Bike is one of the most affordable alternatives to the Peloton. Although it doesn’t come with a screen, the a convenient mount can easily hold your tablet, letting you watch whatever you want while you spinning up a sweat.
3 BEST FOR BEGINNERS Sunny Health & Fitness Pro Indoor Cycling Bike
This no-frills bike might not have all the bells and whistles of other models, but it’ll get the job done—for less than $350. Use it with your favorite app or on its own for an endorphins boost and a great sweat sesh.
4 EASY TO ASSEMBLE PYHIGH Indoor Exercise Bike
If you’re looking for an affordable, minimalist bike, this could be the one for you. It features a screen to track your progress, a 35 pound stationary flywheel, and an ergonomic resistance bar for more comfortable rotation.
5 BEST SMOOTH RIDE MaxKare Stationary Bike
Looking for an indoor bike that will give you a smooth ride? The MaxKare Stationary Bike features a belt-driven mechanism that ensures smooth and quiet workouts while its 44 pound flywheel guarantees stability during your cycle.
6 BEST FOR A BREEZY RIDE JOROTO Belt Drive Indoor Exercise Bike
You know what they say about big flywheels? Big…fun, of course! (And, yes, progressive resistance.) Seriously though—this indoor exercise bike is all about getting those endorphins as you’re motivated to push even more based on the stats displayed on the LCD screen.
7 BUDGET BUY Sunny Health & Fitness Magnetic Belt Drive Indoor Cycling Bike
This fully customizable bike doesn’t come with all the bells and whistles of the more expensive models, but it’s effective and will save you money. It offers a tablet holder, a smooth and silent ride, and magnetic resistance.
8 MOST CLASSIC RIDE Schwinn Upright Series Bike – 170 model
This durable stationary bike boasts features such as a padded contoured seat, easily adjustable handlebars, and built-in tech that tracks your progress (distance, cals burned, heart rate) and offers 29 present exercise programs. You can also toggle between 25 resistant levels by simply clicking a button on the computer’s console.
9 BEST STATIONARY BIKE Women’s Health Indoor Exercise Bike
Not to brag, but the Women’s Health Indoor Bike is one of the best exercise bikes you can buy, and it’s got the features and results to back that up. With multiple levels of resistance, this bike’s flywheel helps you get a quiet and smooth riding experience that will still give you a full-body cardio workout. And with a padded, oversized seat, this will be a comfortable ride (if you choose to remain seated).
10 BEST NEW BIKE SoulCycle At-Home Bike
SoulCycle’s new at-home bike will bring the endorphin-boosting experience from its fitness studios into your living room or home gym. The bike features a 21-inch screen and pin-drop quiet wheels. With the monthly membership you’ll get access to their surround-sound classes and noteworthy trainers. You can preorder your bike now!
Do you hate unloading the dishwasher and have more stuff than space to put away! Well I had to find a few ways to make more space to put everything away. Anyone with smaller kitchens will really want to check these items out from Simplehouseware:
Over the Cabinet Door Organizer Holder, Silver comes in either 1 pack ($13.97) or 2 pack ($21.87)
7 Adjustable Compartments Pan and Pot Lid Organizer Rack Holder, Chrome ($18.87)
2-Tier Dish Rack with Drainboard, Chrome ($20.87)
Stackable Can Rack Organizer, Chrome ($22.87)
Stackable 2 Tier Sliding Basket + Single Tier Basket, Chrome ($47.68)
Kitchen Pot Lid Rack Holder Organizer, Bronze ($8.87)
StoraLid Food Container Lid Organizer, Large, White ($19.99)
17.7″ x 15.5″ Large Dish Drying Rack, Attom Tech Home Roll Up Dish Racks Multipurpose Foldable Stainless Steel Over Sink Kitchen Drainer Rack for Cups Fruits Vegetables ($21.87)
Colander collapsible, Colander Strainer Over The Sink Vegetable/Fruit Colanders Strainers With Extendable Handles, Folding Strainer for Kitchen,6 Quart ($10.99)
Can’t find any sugar skulls for your alter this year make some! It’s really easy just sugar mix and any size skull mold is all you need. Check out the link below to make your:
- Both decorative and edible, sugar skulls, or Calaveras de azúcar, are one of the most iconic elements of Mexico’s Day of the Dead celebration. These cranium-shaped objects are created in sizes from tiny to life-sized and adorned with brightly-colored icing, metallic paper, sequins, or other decorative details. Often, attached to the forehead is a tiny slip of paper featuring a person’s name—the person creating the skull, the one receiving it, or the person being remembered. The skulls are used both as an offering for the dearly departed on a family’s altar and as a sign of affection to the living when given as a gift (a gentle reminder of our own mortality).Visit any Mexican market in the month of October and you will see entire stands dedicated to the sale of skulls made out of sugar, chocolate, amaranth, gumdrop-like gelatin, and other edible materials.
- You will need a few ingredients and some special equipment to make your own sugar skulls, some of which you may have in your pantry, like granulated sugar and powdered sugar, and perhaps meringue powder and paste food coloring. The quantity of the granulated sugar will depend on how many sugar skulls you will be making and what size they will be. Approximately 1 cup of sugar should be enough for 6 very small skulls, 4 medium, or 1 large. The powdered sugar is used for the decorative icing, and the paste food coloring—best in bright colors—is to tint the icing. The meringue powder, available in supermarkets and baking supply stores, helps to hold the sugar together. You will also need a large bowl, some water, a flat plate or piece of cardboard, an electric mixer, icing decorator bags, and any other decorations you like such as foil, sequins, or feathers. Having a few disposable cups and some popsicle sticks is also handy. Make sure you have a large, dry area for the sugar skulls to dry undisturbed (once for the sugar to dry and solidify, then later for the icing to dry and harden).
- Prepare the SugarThe first step is to ready the sugar mixture to form the skulls. For every cup of sugar, mix in 1 teaspoon of meringue powder and sprinkle 1 teaspoon of water on top. Work the water into the sugar with your fingers until the mixture feels like cool beach sand. This takes a few minutes, so be patient. The sugar is ready when you can press your finger or thumb into it and the print will stay.
- Fill the MoldFill the mold with the sugar paste and press firmly with the palm of your hand. When the skull is full and pressed into the mold, use the back of a knife to scrape off excess sugar and then even off the surface. Lightly re-press the scraped surface to smooth it.
- Remove From Mold and Let DryPlace a piece of cardboard or flat plate over the sugar skull. Hold the skull mold tightly on the cardboard or plate and flip it over. Remove the mold from the sugar and place the skull—plate and all—in a place where it can dry undisturbed. Repeat these steps until you run out of sugar.
- Make the IcingTo make the icing you will need 2/3 cup water, 1/2 cup meringue powder, and 2 pounds powdered sugar. Beat the water, meringue powder, and powdered sugar with a large electric mixer until the icing peaks, about 9 minutes. Divide the icing into smaller portions (disposable cups and popsicle sticks work well for this) and use the paste food coloring to tint each portion a different color. Place the icing in the decorator bags. Snip the end of each bag when you’re ready to decorate. Start very small with the snip; you can make it bigger if necessary.
- Decorate the Skulls Now you are ready to decorate your skulls however you like. Use the icing to create designs. If you’re adding foil, beads, or feathers, use the icing as a glue to attach them. (If you attach non-edible items to the skull, remove these before eating, or use the skulls only for decoration.) You can also use ready-made royal icing or tubes of colored white chocolate to use for decorating your skulls.Place the decorated skulls in a place to dry undisturbed. The icing will harden as it dries. Once dry, attach the skull halves of any 2-piece skulls to each other, which you can do with the icing. Once both the sugar and icing are completely dry, your sugar skulls can be touched, eaten, bagged, displayed, etc. If you do have trouble getting your skulls to dry and harden, try putting them in a warm oven for 2 hours or so.
One of the most common food for celebrating the Dead of The Dead is the Day of The Dead bread. It can be found in most bakeries and markets during the Month of October until Nov 2. Sometimes if you are lucky they may have sugar skulls also. This year I decided to make my own:
500 grams wheat flour
4 tablespoons flax
8 tablespoons water
3/4 cup brown sugar
15 grams active dry yeast
90 grams margarine
1/2 cup almond milk
1 1/2 tablespoon orange zest
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon coconut oil
2 tablespoons melted margarine
Refined sugar to cover bread
- Mix the flaxseed with the 8 tablespoons of water, let stand for 5 minutes.
- Place the flour in a bowl, form a hole in the center and pour the linaza, sugar, yeast, margarine, almond milk, orange zest and salt.
- Mix dough by hand or using the dough hook attachment on a stand mixer, mix on low until dough comes together.
- Grease a mixing bowl with coconut oil, add the ball dough and cover it loosely with plastic wrap.
- Place the bowl in a warm spot in the kitchen, let it rise for two hours or until it doubles in size.
- Once dough is ready, gently punch the dough down to deflate then roll onto floured surface. Knead the dough a few times until smooth. Knead in more flour if dough is still sticky.
- Preheat Oven 350 F
- Separate 1/4 of the dough, divide it into three parts, stretch two of these into strips and mark your fingers well to form the bones. Make a ball with the remaining dough and knead to make a large bun.
- Using a pastry brush and water apply the bones strip to the large bun one going from one end to the other end. Apply the second bone strip on top of first from one end to another end to make an X on bun. On top of the bun place a small dough ball.
- Place the bread on to oiled baking tray, let stand for 30 more minutes.
- Bake for 20 – 25 minutes.
- Let bread cool for a few minutes and brush with melted margarine and sprinkle sugar over the bread for the finishing touch.
The Day of the Dead (el Día de los Muertos), is a Mexican holiday where families welcome back the souls of their deceased relatives for a brief reunion that includes food, drink and celebration. A blend of Mesoamerican ritual, European religion and Spanish culture, the holiday is celebrated each year from October 31- November 2. While October 31 is Halloween, November 1 is “el Dia de los Inocentes,” or the day of the children, and All Saints Day. November 2 is All Souls Day or the Day of the Dead. According to tradition, the gates of heaven are opened at midnight on October 31 and the spirits of children can rejoin their families for 24 hours. The spirits of adults can do the same on November 2.
Origins of Day of the Dead
The roots of the Day of the Dead, celebrated in contemporary Mexico and among those of Mexican heritage in the United States and around the world, go back some 3,000 years, to the rituals honoring the dead in pre-Columbian Mesoamerica. The Aztecs and other Nahua people living in what is now central Mexico held a cyclical view of the universe, and saw death as an integral, ever-present part of life.
Upon dying, a person was believed to travel to Chicunamictlán, the Land of the Dead. Only after getting through nine challenging levels, a journey of several years, could the person’s soul finally reach Mictlán, the final resting place. In Nahua rituals honoring the dead, traditionally held in August, family members provided food, water and tools to aid the deceased in this difficult journey. This inspired the contemporary Day of the Dead practice in which people leave food or other offerings on their loved ones’ graves, or set them out on makeshift altars called ofrendasin their homes.
Day of the Dead vs. All Souls Day
In ancient Europe, pagan celebrations of the dead also took place in the fall, and consisted of bonfires, dancing and feasting. Some of these customs survived even after the rise of the Roman Catholic Church, which (unofficially) adopted them into their celebrations of two minor Catholic holidays, All Saints Day and All Souls Day, celebrated on the first two days of November.
In medieval Spain, people would bring bring wine and pan de ánimas (spirit bread) to the graves of their loved ones on All Souls Day; they would also cover graves with flowers and light candles to illuminate the dead souls’ way back to their homes on Earth. In the 16th century, Spanish conquistadores brought such traditions with them to the New World, along with a darker view of death influenced by the devastation of the bubonic plague.
How Is the Day of the Dead Celebrated?
El Día de los Muertos is not, as is commonly thought, a Mexican version of Halloween, though the two holidays do share some traditions, including costumes and parades. On the Day of the Dead, it’s believed that the border between the spirit world and the real world dissolve. During this brief period, the souls of the dead awaken and return to the living world to feast, drink, dance and play music with their loved ones. In turn, the living family members treat the deceased as honored guests in their celebrations, and leave the deceased’s favorite foods and other offerings at gravesites or on the ofrendas built in their homes. Ofrendas can be decorated with candles, bright marigolds called cempasuchil and red cock’s combs alongside food like stacks of tortillas and fruit.
The most prominent symbols related to the Day of the Dead are calacas (skeletons) and calaveras (skulls). In the early 19th century, the printer and cartoonist José Guadalupe Posada reenvisioned Mictecacíhuatl, the Aztec goddess of the underworld, as a female skeleton known as La Calavera Catrina, now the most recognizable Day of the Dead icon.
During contemporary Day of the Dead festivities, people commonly wear skull masks and eat sugar candy molded into the shape of skulls. The pan de ánimas of All Souls Day rituals in Spain is reflected in pan de muerto, the traditional sweet baked good of Day of the Dead celebrations today. Other food and drink associated with the holiday, but consumed year-round as well, include spicy dark chocolate and the corn-based liquor called atole. You can wish someone a happy Day of the Dead by saying, “Feliz día de los Muertos.”
Día de los Muertos: A Brief History, National Hispanic Cultural Center
Giardina, Carolyn, “‘Coco’: How Pixar Brought its ‘Day of the Dead’ Story to Life,” Hollywood Reporter, December 12, 2017
Dobrin, Isabel, “Día de los Muertos Comes to Life Across the Mexican Diaspora,” NPR, November 2, 2017
Scott, Chris. “Day of the Dead parade – Life imitates art,” CNN, October 28, 2016
It’s that time Halloween night since there will be no trick or treating, get the snacks out and line up a movie marathon. There is a full moon tonight and daylight saving so an extra hour to get scared. Check out the list below I have seen all of them: https://editorial.rottentomatoes.com/article/the-10-scariest-horror-movies-ever/
(Photo by ©Warner Bros. courtesy Everett Collection)
You may not agree that The Exorcist is the scariest movie ever, but it probably also isn’t much of a surprise to see it at the top of our list — with a whopping 19% of all the votes cast. William Friedkin’s adaptation of the eponymous novel about a demon-possessed child and the attempts to banish said demon became the highest-grossing R-rated horror film ever and the first to be nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars (it earned nine other nominations and took home two trophies). But outside of its critical and commercial bona fides, the film is well-known for the mass hysteria it inspired across the country, from protests over its controversial subject matter to widespread reports of nausea and fainting in the audience. Its dramatic pacing and somewhat dated effects may seem quaint compared to some contemporary horror, but there’s no denying the power the film continues to have over those who see it for the first time.
(Photo by ©A24)
Writer-director Ari Aster made a huge splash with his feature directorial debut, a dark family drama about the nature of grief couched within a supernatural horror film. Toni Collette earned a spot in the pantheon of great Oscar snubs with her slowly-ratcheted-up-to-11 performance as bedeviled mother Annie, but the movie’s biggest shock came courtesy of… Well, we won’t spoil that here. Suffice it to say Hereditary struck such a nerve with moviegoers that it instantly turned Aster into a director to watch and shot up to second place on our list.
(Photo by Michael Tackett/©Warner Bros. Pictures)
James Wan has staked out a place among the modern masters of horror, directing films like Saw, Dead Silence, Insidious, and this inspired-by-true-events chiller based on the experiences of real-life paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren. The Warrens, best known for their work on the strange case that inspired the Amityville Horror movies (which played a part in The Conjuring 2), were portrayed by Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga, who grounded the effective jump scares and freak-out moments with a believable world-weariness. Together, Wan and his co-leads found fresh terror in familiar genre tropes, and the end result is a sprawling cinematic universe that only continues to grow.
(Photo by ©Warner Brothers)
Literally dozens of Stephen King’s novels and stories have been adapted for the big screen, and several of those films are considered classics today, like Carrie, Misery, and Pet Sematary (and that doesn’t even account for non-horror stuff like The Shawshank Redemption and Stand By Me). But the mother of them all is easily Stanley Kubrick’s adaptation of The Shining. A marvel of set and production design and a genuinely unnerving take on the traditional haunted house story, The Shining features a host of memorable images and an iconic Jack Nicholson performance. The film’s relatively few jumps scares are still absolutely chilling, but its true power lies in the way it crawls under your skin and makes you experience Jack Torrance’s slow descent into madness. It’s rightfully considered one of the greatest horror films ever made, and it ranked fourth in our poll.
(Photo by Everett Collection)
While the top four movies on this list collectively garnered 42% of the total votes counted, they were followed by six films that all earned around 3% of the vote each. In other words, these last six films were separated by no more than 60 votes. The first of them is this low-budget slasher directed and co-written by Tobe Hooper, very loosely inspired by the crimes of Ed Gein. Texas Chainsaw’s grimy aesthetic helped lend it an air of authenticity, which made it all the more frightening (“This could actually happen, you guys!”), and the massive, menacing presence of Gunnar Hansen’s Leatherface paved the way for other brutes like Michael Myers and Jason Voorhees. Multiple attempts have been made to breathe new life into the franchise — and we have another one on the way — but none have equaled the original in sheer, over-the-top, power tool-inspired terror.
(Photo by ©DreamWorks courtesy Everett Collection)
It’s always a tricky proposition to take something that works well for one culture and try to translate that formula successfully for another, but Gore Verbinski managed that with The Ring. A remake of Japanese director Hideo Nakata’s acclaimed thriller about a cursed videotape, Verbinski’s take kept the original film’s striking visual imagery — the ghost of a young girl in a white dress with long black hair covering her face — and found that it scared the hell out of audiences no matter where they were from. While the film wasn’t as well-regarded as its predecessor, it features a committed performance from a then up-and-coming Naomi Watts, and for many, it served as an introduction to East Asian horror cinema.
(Photo by ©Compass International Pictures)
Coming in at the seventh spot on our list is the film that introduced the world to all-time scream queen Jamie Lee Curtis and put John Carpenter on the map. Halloween is frequently cited as one of the earliest examples of the slasher genre as we know it today, and while it may not feature the same kind of realistic gore we’ve come to expect of films in that category, it packs a lot of tension and some inventive thrills in a relatively small-scale package. The film’s legacy is also fairly untouchable: Michael Myers’ mask has become the stuff of legend, and the giant, unstoppable killer and the “final girl” have become ingrained in the horror lexicon. There’s a reason the franchise is still going after more than 40 years.
(Photo by ©Summit Entertainment)
For those who didn’t read the “scientific study” mentioned at the top, we’ve finally come to the film it crowned the scariest. Before he joined the MCU with 2016’s Doctor Strange, director Scott Derrickson had racked up a few horror films, a couple of which earned cult followings. One of them was this small-scale haunted house/possession story about a true-crime writer (Ethan Hawke) who moves his wife and kids into a house where a family was murdered, only to discover the new place might already have a rather evil tenant. Writer C. Robert Cargill was reportedly inspired to pen the script based on a nightmare he had after watching The Ring, and the story does share a minor similarity with that film, what with the creepy snuff film angle. But for many who saw it, the dramatic reveals and creepy set pieces far outweighed any recycled genre tropes that might have been present. Plus, there’s at least one report out there that says it’s the scariest movie ever made, so that must count for something.
(Photo by ©FilmDistrict courtesy Everett Collection)
James Wan has already shown up higher on the list, but before he and Patrick Wilson made The Conjuring, they worked together on this supernatural thriller about a young boy who falls into a coma and begins to channel a malevolent spirit. The bare bones of the story weren’t the most groundbreaking, but frequent Wan collaborator Leigh Whannell infused it with a compelling enough mythology that it spawned three more installments. Wan also stated that Insidious was meant to be something of a corrective to the outright violence of Saw, which compelled him to craft something on a more spiritual level, and the end result is an effective chiller featuring what is frequently regarded one of the best jump scares ever put on screen.
10. IT (2017)
(Photo by Brooke Palmer/©Warner Bros.)
The fear of clowns is a very real thing, even if it’s become so commonplace to announce it that it feels disingenuous. If you needed any further evidence, we direct you to the box office haul of 2017’s IT, based on the Stephen King novel of the same name, which went on to beat The Exorcist’s 44-year record as the highest-grossing horror film ever. Oh, and of course, its 10th-place finish on this list. Andy Muschietti’s big-budget adaptation drew on nostalgia to tell its story of children scarred by trauma, while Bill Skarsgard’s take on Pennywise the evil, shapeshifting clown was bizarre and unsettling in all the right ways. Add a healthy dose of jump scares, a handful of impressive set pieces, and some top-notch CGI, and you’ve got a recipe for a horror film that’s both fun and full of scares.
It’s almost Halloween Day so who doesn’t love a good scary story but a truly scary place!!! Check out a few of the most haunted places in California:
Los Coches Adobe
This old waypoint is the subject of more ghost rumors than you could shake a bundle of sage at. Soledad’s Los Coches Adobe was a frequent stop for stagecoach travelers in the mid-1800s, but now sits abandoned; many consider the vacant building to be haunted, including Soledad Mayor Fred Ledesma, who told KION he’s heard several tales from city workers and his father about ghost sightings and mysterious noises, including the sounds of raucous parties.
One popular rumor is that a group of some 30 miners were trapped underground where they ultimately perished, and the screams of their spirits are still audible to those who venture near after dark. Other supposed ghosts include a spectral couple who wander the grounds holding hands, an inmate who escaped the nearby Soledad Correctional Training Facility, and a woman in black who would murder miners looking for a good time, robbing them and dumping their bodies in a well.
Hikers mostly enjoy Turnbull Canyon, a 4-mile loop trail in the Puente Hills Preserve, for its scenic views. It’s also home to so many ghost stories and urban legends that Ryan Murphy could make an entire season of American Horror Story about it.
Largely uncorroborated legends surround clandestine meetings of occultists, one of them rumored to have kidnapped several local children from an orphanage for ritual sacrifice. Others claim UFO sightings, KKK gatherings, and disappearing specters. Even more surround an old asylum that burned down decades ago. One tale speaks of a teen who came upon an electroshock therapy contraption that fried him to a crisp when he strapped it on his head, despite the fact that the power should have been long cut off.
While many of these more lurid tales have little, if any, evidence to support them, Turnbull Canyon has been the site of at least a few well-documented horrors. In 1952, Flight 416 left New York City only to crash into the hills here. All 26 passengers and the plane’s three crew members were killed. In 2009, a young woman was attacked by a group of men who slit her throat, threw her down the canyon edge, and left her for dead. The woman was able to make her way to a nearby residence, where she received help and, despite serious wounds, survived. In 2011, the body of 41-year-old woman was found in the area; her boyfriend was convicted of her murder six years later.
Winchester Mystery House
The Winchester Mystery House is so named for Sarah Winchester, the widow of Winchester Repeating Arms Company treasurer William Wirth Winchester. After Mr. Winchester succumbed to tuberculosis in 1881, Sarah Winchester took her massive inheritance from Connecticut to California, where she purchased an unfinished farmhouse and hired several employees to complete it. The mansion grew to seven mismatched stories, with rooms and additions tacked on without rhyme or reason, and yet it was never fully completed; famously, doors and stairs were built that bafflingly led nowhere.
What fed Winchester’s appetite for construction? The pervasive legend is that Winchester was haunted by the ghosts of those who fell victim to Winchester rifles. The only way to evade the vengeful spirits was to keep building, the twists and turns a means to confuse the ghosts’ relentless pursuit. In some variations of the story, Winchester’s instructions came from a medium she visited after her husband’s death who informed her of her curse.
For skeptics, though, the more likely story is that Winchester was just an exceedingly wealthy woman who could afford her endless renovations. Writer Katie Dowd suggests in a 2018 SF Gate article that Winchester kept building because, without a dedicated architect to help her with her designs, she kept screwing up. Others have posited the noted philanthropist kept workers fairly busy because she was rich enough to provide them with continuous employment.
Regardless, construction finally halted with Winchester’s death in 1922 and lore took over for decades to come. The house itself has been partially restored and is open for public tours; docents stoke the spooky tales and, around Halloween, ghost tours by candlelight are offered.
Hotel del Coronado
When the magnificent, seaside Hotel del Coronado opened in 1888, it was the biggest resort in the world, attracting a host of notable guests — and (purportedly) at least one ghost, widely believed to be that of Kate Morgan.
Morgan, née Farmer, was the daughter of an Iowa postmaster. She married Thomas Morgan in 1885, with whom she had one son who died at just two days old; five years later, Morgan left with another man and eventually made her way to Los Angeles, where she worked as a housekeeper. On Thanksgiving Day, 1892, Morgan checked into the palatial resort using the name Lottie Bernard. Five days later, she was found dead on a stairway leading to the beach by the hotel’s assistant electrician. She had been shot once in the head.
A coroner determined the wound to be self-inflicted, and a housekeeper told reporters that Morgan had indicated she was suffering from a terminal illness. Other rumors speculate she’d been abandoned at the hotel by a male companion, leaving her distraught; still others believe she was murdered by said male companion.
Though Morgan was laid to rest at Mount Hope Cemetery, not far from the hotel, rumors have long persisted that her ghost roams the property. The hotel itself has published a book, Beautiful Stranger: The Ghost of Kate Morgan and the Hotel del Coronado, in which Morgan’s spirit is described as playful, but harmless. Those who stay in Morgan’s old room (number 3327) have reported mysterious breezes, the TV and faucets turning on and off by themselves, and sightings of a woman in a black Victorian dress. One couple, according to San Diego Magazine, claimed the spirit pulled the covers off the bed at night.
Some claim Room 3519 is also haunted by a housekeeper who hanged herself many years ago. That particular case, however, is far less documented than the death of Kate Morgan.
A stroll among Greystone Mansion’s verdant grounds may give you a sense of peace, but the history of this sprawling, Gordon Kaufmann-designed, Tudor estate is particularly grim.
In 1928, oil tycoon Edward Doheny bought the mansion for his son, Ned Doheny Jr., who moved in with his wife, Lucy, and their five children. Just four months later, Doheny’s secretary and close friend, Hugh Plunkett, showed up and let himself in with his own key; the official account states that Plunkett fatally shot Doheny before turning the gun on himself, though it’s not entirely clear why.
Plunkett had gotten mixed up in the infamous Teapot Dome scandal, having accompanied his friend on a 1921 trip to deliver a $100,000 loan to U.S. Secretary of the Interior Albert Fall. This was at the request of Doheny’s father, who would later be accused of bribing Fall to gain exclusive oil drilling rights on federal land. Plunkett was called to testify in the case, but the Dohenys allegedly wanted the increasingly unhinged Plunkett committed; the murder-suicide occurred before either could happen.
Some have speculated that the official story is not the truth. Theories attempt to connect the pair to a Teapot Dome-related assassination, or assert that Lucy killed them both after finding out they were romantically involved. What really happened in the Greystone Mansion that night will likely never be known. The mystery has only bolstered ghost stories, claiming that the spirits of Plunkett and Doheny still wander the 55-room estate.
Lucy Doheny remarried and lived at the mansion for the next several years, selling it in 1955. It is now a park owned by Beverly Hills, and the grounds are usually free to visit, barring a private event. To actually get inside the house, you’ll have to attend an event or the occasional tour.
Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary
This infamous maximum security men’s prison on Alcatraz Island operated between 1934 and 1963. Sometimes known as “The Rock,” it had a reputation for housing the worst of the worst, with notable inmates including Al Capone, Whitey Bulger, and George “Machine Gun” Kelly.
A number of ghost stories surround the popular tourist attraction, but spooky lore precedes the prison; according to legend, the Miwok Indians never liked the island, considering it a gathering place for evil spirits. Alcatraz’s most famous ghost story revolves around cell 14D, in which it is said a prisoner once spent the night screaming about a hostile creature with glowing eyes, only to be found dead the next day. Another tale says that you can still hear the twang of Capone’s banjo, a respite for the notorious mobster during his sentence there. Still another ghost story suggests strange noises can be heard echoing from Block C, where, in 1946, three inmates and two correctional officers were killed in a violent escape attempt known as The Battle of Alcatraz.
Whether or not the hauntings are legit, Alcatraz Island is now maintained by the National Park Service, while the prison serves as a museum — which means visitors can get there via ferry for a variety of exhibits and activities.
The Whaley House
The Whaley House is a history museum in Old Town San Diego, open to the public for tours and events. Rumor persists that the museum is haunted by both the spirits of the Whaley family and a boat thief who was executed on the property.
Thomas Whaley was an East Coaster who moved to California for the Gold Rush and ended up operating a store in San Diego in the 1850s. He built himself the two-story brick home in 1857, fixing it to an existing granary that would later serve as a courtroom. He lived there with his wife, Anna, with whom he had six children.
According to legend, the property is haunted by multiple spirits; James “Yankee Jim” Robinson is perhaps the oldest among them. A convicted thief, he was hanged in 1852 on the property before a group of onlookers, one of whom was Whaley himself. Whaley still purchased the property and built his family home there, but would later claim to hear disembodied footsteps, which he attributed to Robinson’s ghost.
Others claim that the museum is haunted by the Whaley’s daughter, Violet, who in 1885 fatally shot herself in the heart at just 22 years old. Violet was despondent after her husband, George Bertolacci, wedded her only for the sizable dowry her father had offered then abandoned her shortly thereafter. According to the Save Our Heritage Organisation, who manages the Whaley House, the humiliated divorcee left behind a note reading:
Mad from life’s history
Swift to death’s mystery;
Glad to be hurled,
Anywhere, anywhere, out of this world
The Cecil Hotel
The Cecil is not the only old hotel in downtown Los Angeles to harbor a ghost story, but it’s definitely the creepiest among them. It’s had so many tragedies, there’s a whole Wikipedia page for “list of deaths and violence at the Cecil Hotel.”
Like most of its contemporaries, the Cecil was a nice hotel when it opened in the ’20s, but then fell into disrepair in the wake of the Great Depression. Its earliest issue was the oddly high number of suicides that occurred on the property: so many, in fact, that people began to refer to it as The Suicide. The first is believed to have occurred in 1931, when a traveler from Chicago checked in under a fake name and took poison in his room.
In 1962, Pauline Otton, 27, leapt from the ninth story after getting into an argument with her estranged husband. She landed on top of a passing pedestrian, 65-year-old George Gianinni, and killed them both. In 1964, Goldie Osgood was found murdered in her room at the Cecil. She was known as “Pigeon,” as she frequently fed the birds gathered in Pershing Square, just a short walk from the hotel. Though it was determined that Osgood had been beaten to death, her assailant was never caught.
In 2013, 21-year-old Canadian tourist Elisa Lam went missing shortly after checking in to the Cecil. She was found dead several days later in one of the hotel’s rooftop water tanks; guests, who had been bathing with and drinking the tainted water, had begun to complain about low water pressure, leading a maintenance man to the horrifying discovery. The shocking case received considerable media attention, in part due to surveillance footage of Lam behaving bizarrely in an elevator; police had released the footage while Lam was still missing, hoping it would lead them to her safe return.
The hotel’s got some history with serial killers as well: Los Angeles serial killer Richard “The Night Stalker” Ramirez stayed here in the mid-’80s, and Austrian serial killer Jack Unterweger spent time here in 1991 while he worked as a journalist covering crime in LA (and subsequently murdered three women during his stay).
With so many horrific and tragic events occurring in a single hotel — and the above are just a handful of them — it’s no wonder that the superstitious believe some sort of dark presence has taken hold.
California is home to several ghost towns, but Bodie is the one that’s got its very own curse. Located in the Bodie Hills south of Lake Tahoe, it was a former mining and Gold Rush boom town containing a bank, numerous rowdy saloons, a Chinatown area, and a Red Light District. The population steadily declined until, by the 1940s, fewer than 10 residents remained. In 1961, Bodie was named a National Historic Landmark, now known as Bodie State Historic Park. Just over 100 structures remain in a state of “arrested decay,” giving tourists a glimmer of its Wild West past.
As for the so-called Bodie Curse, it’s easily avoided: Just don’t take anything from the park, and you’ll be fine. If you pocket a single item, however, you’ll be plagued with misfortune, and according to a KQED segment, many past thieves have returned their ill-gotten goods — ranging from rocks and nails to an upright piano — complete with letters of contrition. Ultimately, the source of the curse seems to have been a park ranger desperate to stop sticky-fingered tourists from taking old artifacts, but those who have tested it still seem to swear by it.
When it comes to ghosts, Bodie could perhaps point to its rough past replete with bar brawls and gun fights, but its most interesting character may have been Eleanor Dumont, a card dealer better known as “Madame Mustache” (due to a dark swath of hair on her upper lip). She came to Bodie where her luck ran out and, funds depleted, fatally injected herself with morphine. Maybe it’s Dumont’s restless spirit who gives the fictional curse its long legs.
The Char Man of Ojai
The Char Man is a Central Coast urban legend dating back to the 1940s. According to local lore, the Char Man was a guy who lived in a cabin just outside the city of Ojai before he was forever altered by the flames of a raging wildfire. From there, the tale spins off into multiple popular variations. In one, the Char Man lived with his father, who was killed in the blaze; the Char Man survived, but was badly injured and driven mad by the traumatic experience. He was last seen flaying his father’s ruined flesh before fleeing into the woods near Old Creek Road. In other versions of the story, it’s a lover or sister who is killed in the fire; in yet others, he’s a solitary older man so horribly disfigured by the fire that he became a recluse who emerges only to chase away intruders.
In a 1967 article in the Ventura County Star-Free Press, a teenage boy claimed that the Char Man chased him and stole his jacket. Charlie Seemann, who researched the legend extensively, made contact with an anonymous source who claimed he was the one who stole the boy’s jacket. The source said he’d heard the Char Man stories and decided to stage an elaborate hoax to further terrify the local youth. Seemann also spoke with a law enforcement officer who claimed the real Char Man was an older gentleman with a skin deformity who lived alone near Signal Street. Children who saw him were frightened by his appearance, and the legend grew from there.
Regardless of how the whole thing started, the Char Man continues to lend his likeness to nightmares — and a local hot sauce brand.
Trying to figure out what to do with left over whey when I make cheese, it’s usually about a gallon or so. If you don’t want to use it in protein shakes the garden is your best place! http://www.blog.cheesemaking.com gives us the full breakdown how to use:
We use unsalted whey because salt is not useful in the garden. Fortunately, most of the time, when we make cheese, we salt the curds after we drain off the whey, so this is usually not an issue.
ACID WHEY VS SWEET WHEY
We need to bear in mind that there is a difference between acid whey and sweet whey: Sweet whey comes from cheese we make with rennet. Acid whey is a byproduct when we make dairy products that don’t involve the use of rennet – yogurt, buttermilk, kefir, etc. (There is sub-category of acid whey called “cooked whey” which is the whey leftover from making panir, queso fresco and ricotta. It has less protein and less vitamins and minerals than the other wheys but it can still be used in the garden.)
Acid whey is more acidic than sweet whey. This is because some of the lactose in it has been converted to lactic acid. Sweet whey has a pH greater than or equal to 5.6, whereas acid whey has a pH less than or equal to 5.1 (from Wikipedia). Another difference is that acid whey has slightly more vitamins and minerals in it than sweet whey.
Many articles erroneously recommend using only sweet whey in gardening and not acid whey. That is based on the idea that you might go out and throw a gallon of acid whey onto your tomato plant with no regard for the acid content. That would not be good for your plants. In fact, some people pour acid whey on their weeds to kill them! (We’re assuming here that you understand the difference between the two kinds of whey and that you will follow the directions below when using it.)
Both kinds of whey can damage the environment when large quantities of it are dumped into bodies of water because changing the pH of the water effects the fish, etc.
CHANGING THE PH OF THE SOIL
For those of you who don’t generally consider this aspect of gardening, the pH of the soil is the level of acidity. The lower the pH, the more acidic the soil is and the higher the pH, the more alkaline it is.
This is important because plants can’t get the nutrients they need from the soil unless the soil has the right amount of acidity. Different plants prefer different levels, so, soil that is good for one type of plant, is not good for another. There are many good charts online showing optimal pH ranges for plants; here’s one from the Farmer’s Almanac – click here.
How do you know the pH of your soil? Most universities have soil testing labs and you can send samples to them for a small fee. The information you receive is absolutely invaluable. Or, if you already have the type of pH meter we sell (click here) to use when making cheese, you can use the same pH meter to test your garden’s soil.
If you don’t know the pH of your soil, you don’t really know whether whey will be good for it. Odds are it will be for the acid-loving plants, but if your soil is already very acidic (5 – 5.5), whey would not be a good choice.
Generally speaking, it’s a fool’s errand to try to change the acidity of your soil; it’s preferable to simply plant the right plants in the right place. However, that isn’t always possible (because we just have to have that gorgeous hydrangea in our alkaline soil). So, most of us make amendments of one kind or another.
We use various products for this – whey, vinegar, sphagnum peat, sulfur or any acidifying fertilizer. In any case, it is not wise to change the pH too rapidly.
As stated, you would usually use whey on your acid-loving plants to change the pH. However, whey has some value as a fertilizer in itself.
It actually has small quantities of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium (as well as calcium and magnesium). The N-P-K ratio is typically 0.15-0.05-0.17. (Acid whey has less protein than sweet whey, but it still contains many of the same vitamins and minerals in sweet whey.)
This is low enough for you to use it regularly without fear of over-fertilizing.
Directions for use:
Dilute it before adding it to your soil. This is an inexact science, but we suggest you dilute it in the same amount of water to start, so you have a 50:50 split.
Pour it around the base of your plants and not on the plants themselves.
Try not to give your plants a total of more than 1″ of diluted whey per week. (You will need a rain gauge for this.) A common recommendation is to use 1 gallon of diluted whey per 10 square feet of garden space every seven to 14 days.*
CONTROLLING POWDERY MILDEW
Some folks spray whey onto their plants to prevent the spread of fungal diseases like powdery mildew.
ADDING TO YOUR COMPOST
Whey is a great supplement to your compost because the carbon:nitrogen ratio averages 20:1. (UMN.edu)
Strain it and, after you add it to your compost, turn the pile so the whey doesn’t heat it up too much.
If you are worm composting, add only a few diluted tablespoons per week – the worms don’t like too much acidity.
*This is from Hunker: An all-purpose fertilizer with an N-P-K ratio of 24-8-16 is diluted at a rate of 1 tablespoon per 1 gallon of water. This supplies 0.1 ounces of nitrogen, 0.03 ounces of phosphorus and 0.06 ounces of potassium per application. To apply the same amount of nitrogen using whey, mix the whey half-and-half with water. This will supply 0.1 ounces of nitrogen, 0.04 ounces of phosphorus and 0.12 ounces of potassium per gallon. Use the mixture in place of regular fertilizer every other time you fertilize. Use 1 gallon of diluted fertilizer or whey per 10 square feet of garden space every seven to 14 days.
A treat for everyone in the family who doesn’t love pretzels! This was one recipe I was a little scared to tried but going to do it! Thank you loveandlemons.com my kids are so excited:
For the pretzel dough
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup
- 1 pkg. (¼ ounce) active dry yeast (2¼ teaspoons)
- 1½ cups warm water
- 4½ cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons sea salt
- ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil or canola oil, more for brushing
- Coarse sea salt, for sprinkling
For the poaching water
- 6 cups water
- 2 tablespoons baking soda
- Prepare the pretzel dough: In a small bowl, combine the maple syrup, yeast, and water and proof for 5 minutes or until foamy.
- In the bowl of a mixer fitted with a dough hook attachment, place the flour, salt, olive oil, and the yeast mixture. Mix on medium-low speed for 5 to 6 minutes, until the dough is well-formed around the hook. If the dough is very dry after 3 minutes, add 1 tablespoon of water.
- Transfer the dough to a clean lightly floured work surface and gently knead to form into a ball. If the dough is too sticky, add a little more flour. Brush a large bowl with ½ teaspoon of olive oil and place the dough inside. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm spot for 60 to 90 minutes, until the dough is almost doubled in size.
- Preheat the oven to 450°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Turn the dough out onto a clean (not floured) work surface and divide it into 8 equal pieces. Roll one piece of dough into an 18-inch rope. Grab the ends of the dough rope to make a U shape. Cross one of the ends of the rope over the other, leaving a wide loop of dough below them. Then, wrap the dough ends around each other again to create the pretzel’s twist. Fold the twist towards you, into the center of the dough loop, to make a pretzel shape. (See step-by-step photos above). Place it onto the baking sheet and repeat with the remaining dough.
- Prepare the poaching water: In a large pot, combine the 6 cups of water and the baking soda and bring to a boil. Drop pretzels, one at a time, into the pot. Boil for 30 seconds, then lift out using a slotted spoon and place onto the baking sheet. While the dough is still wet, sprinkle with coarse salt. Use a sharp knife to cut a 4-inch slit along the bottom of each pretzel.
- Bake for 14 minutes or until golden brown.