Reformation Day/Halloween 2021

Today was the rare occasion where Reformation Day/Halloween actually falls on a Sunday. We started the day at church, where we enjoyed some especially amazing music featuring hymns written by Martin Luther:

We went for a short walk in Forest Park after the service, where we enjoyed the beautiful fall colors (in spite of the wind):

I was so excited to pick up a box of Monster Mash cereal for the Fab Five for breakfast!

This afternoon, we watched The Nightmare Before Christmas for the first time, as well as It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown. For dinner, I made potato-parsnip soup, cheese and jam turnovers, and butterbeer…it was the perfect meal for today!

Dessert was the Jell-O Halloween Special, as advertised by Harlow Wilcox in the 1940s…”Looks like a dish of sunshine all dressed up, doesn’t it?”

I chose my costume in Animal Crossing: New Horizons with great care…I’m a hot dog!

I tracked down the Czar of Halloween right away.

I think my neighbors enjoyed the festivities, too!

This was a busier Halloween than most for us, and it was a very fun day!

Costumes, Animal Crossing Style

Jack, the Czar of Halloween, will be visiting in just a week…here’s a look at some costume ideas I came up with that seem equal to the event. (My personal favorite for this year is the hot dog suit.)

And just for fun, a Roald cosplay I put together. The beak isn’t quite right, but I think it’s a pretty good approximation, don’t you?

What costume are you planning on wearing this year?

Halloween in the Time of COVID-19

Halloween is the one holiday this year that looks pretty much the same to us, since our celebrations are always minimal at best. But I still wanted to make the day special, so I went to some extra effort with our meals.

We started the day with pumpkin spice cinnamon rolls. Yes, they were from a can, but they were still a treat!

I chose all of the elements of our dinner from our Harry Potter cookbook. We had braised lamb, Brussels sprouts, boiled potatoes, mashed parsnips, and butterbeer.

Dessert also came from the Harry Potter cookbook…a chocolate gateau.

We spent the day watching movies (Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, because it’s about candy, and Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone), and It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown, plus we listened to my favorite Halloween episode of The Baby Snooks Show. And of course, Animal Crossing: New Horizons was played!

Another holiday in the time of COVID-19 has come and gone, but the big ones are still on the horizon!

A Markel Family…Halloween?

As a family, we’ve never been into Halloween. Not once have the children dressed up and gone trick-or-treating, nor have they gone to any Halloween parties. Sure, we visit the pumpkin patch every year, and we listen to the Baby Snooks 1946 Halloween special and watch It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown multiple times every October. But come October 31st each year, we celebrate Reformation Day instead of Halloween.

Kind of. As the years have gone by, we’ve edged a little closer to a traditional Halloween celebration. I think it all started with Legends and Lanterns, which we’ve visited faithfully every year since its inception. While we still don’t go trick-or-treating (and honestly, we only have one, maybe two children who are still of the age for doing so, anyway!), we have carved a pumpkin (an activity that the children thought was fun to try once, but have no desire to do again!). We’ve also started having a special dinner featuring recipes from The Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook. So I thought this year, I’d take a look at how we’ve come to celebrate Halloween.

Halloween breakfast has always featured either Cap’n Crunch’s Halloween Crunch or one of the General Mills Monster Cereals. This year, it was Franken Berry (while we listened to Baby Snooks):

I also found a special treat to go with lunch…pumpkin pie Rice Krispies Treats:

Of course I had the perfect outfit for the occasion:

And a “Little Luther” thrown in, because it is still Reformation Day, after all!

On to our feast for the day. I made one favorite recipe from the cookbook (pumpkin fizz), and tried three new options…”ghoul”-ash (I came up with that version of the name, and I’m rather proud of it!), and glazed carrots for dinner, and chocolate eclairs for dessert. They were all delicious!

We spent the day watching our favorite movies and TV shows that fit the theme…Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, Bewitched, The Simpsons, and Sabrina the Teenage Witch (we watched Meet Me in St. Louis recently, which is a family favorite, and has a great Halloween scene, so we didn’t watch it again today, although we often do on Halloween).

So that’s our not-really-Halloween, Halloween celebration. It’s still not my favorite holiday, but I really do love the fun ways we’ve found to put our own spin on it, and it’s definitely something I’ve come to look forward to each October!

Legends and Lanterns: The Fourth Year

Yesterday was one of our most anticipated family outings of the year…our trip to St. Charles, MO, for the fourth annual Legends and Lanterns event!

As always, the characters were a huge draw. Some were the same, but there were a few new faces/characters, as well (we really enjoyed the Druid Priest and Imhotep, and the new version of Ichabod Crane really nailed the nervous persona of his namesake!).

And Scarecrow Glen is always fun…my favorite was Vincent Van ScareGogh!

Historic St. Charles really gets the “spirit” of the season, from the festival adornments to the various shops’ decorations:

The girls, especially, love taking pictures in special locations or with special characters…and so do I!

Another new element this year involved the event books. Instead of handing out stickers, each character had a stamp. This had some obvious logistical benefits, and also had an added perk of some characters having specific ideas of where their stamp should or shouldn’t be placed in the book, which added to their eccentric personalities:

Every trip we take to St. Charles is fun and memorable, and as my children get older, and I begin to glimpse a future where they strike out on their own, I have a new appreciation for these special family moments we have shared, and memories that we have made!

A Family Feast Mash-Up

In our house, October 31st is pretty much about Reformation Day, because we’re not really into Halloween (or are we?). But this year, since we’ve been so focused on Harry Potter, I wanted something that was both a nod to the series, which celebrates Halloween, as well something that was a reference to our German heritage/Reformation Day. So I came up with what I think was a good compromise…we had a German dinner of brats, sauerkraut, and kartoffelpuffer (potato pancakes), with a pumpkin-themed desert featuring recipes from our Harry Potter Cookbook (pumpkin fizz and pumpkin pasties).

The rest of the day was spent enjoying the “Reformation Polka,” reading about Martin Luther while hearing Lutheran hymns, listening to the Baby Snooks Halloween special, and watching The Wizard of Oz, Rick Steves’ Luther and the Reformation special, Bob Ross’ The Joy of Painting, and Halloween episodes of Sabrina, the Teenage Witch. It’s not really a traditional Halloween celebration, and not only a Reformation Day observance, but it’s very us!

Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp–Jack’s Halloween Hunt and More!

It’s almost Halloween, and that means theJack, the Czar of Halloween, has been visiting Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp! The various events have been going on throughout the month of October, and there have been a lot of challenges!

First was Jack’s Halloween Hunt, a gardening event that offered furniture as rewards for catching various bats that were attracted to apple, peach, and plum “Lollipoppies.”

One of my favorite pieces of furniture was a bench that comes with a friendly ghost…I loved seeing the reactions of the animals at the campsite!

After the regular gardening tasks were completed, there were hard tasks that allowed you to get some of the furniture in an alternate color:

There’s also a fortune cookie event: Muffy’s Creepy Cookie, which has coordinating spooky items like this fun haunted pumpkin tree:

Jack came back for a fishing event, too! This time, the goal was catching orange, melon, and grape candy fish, and as is the case with all fishing tourneys, there was a special net available to guarantee a catch:

There were lots of costume rewards for this tourney, and my favorite were the count’s jacket and hat:

And if that wasn’t enough, there was also a special furniture item available for purchase with “Leaf Tickets”…Jack’s Puppet Theater. If you have this item, Jack can show up at your campsite anytime! I didn’t craft one, but Ladybug did, and let me take a picture of Jack visiting her campsite:

In addition to all of that, there are also terrain items available for purchase for Leaf Tickets, but we didn’t craft any of those (yet). This was a fun event, but I’m really looking forward to what Animal Crossing might have planned for Thanksgiving (a Franklin event, I hope!) and Christmas!

Legends and Lanterns: The Third Year

Today we visited historic St. Charles, MO, for the third year of the Legends and Lanterns festival!

We enjoyed meeting some new characters, including the Queen of Hearts, the Phantom of the Opera, the “Weird Sisters,” one of the Brothers Grimm, and the Wicked Witch of the East:

We also saw some familiar faces:

It’s always so much fun to walk up and down Main Street and see all the fall decorations, the horse-drawn wagon rides, and the creative displays in Scarecrow Glen (where we also voted in the “Straw Poll” for our favorite):

We had a great time collecting stickers for our “passports” along the way. The Legends and Lanterns passport continues to impress me. Not only is there a space for every sticker you receive, making it very easy to keep track of who you’ve seen (and who you’ve missed!), there are fun activities and great background information for the characters. We once again saw almost everyone, and only came up a few stickers short. We even found Jekyll, the cardboard cat, and were rewarded with Legends and Lanterns yo-yos!

As always, I love these great events in St. Charles, especially since they focus so much on history and literature!