Monday, October 28, 2013

Want to hear a good Ghost Story?

If you happen to live in my neck of the woods and you are scouting for something spooky to do, Eureka Springs offers a whole week of eerie activities. The Crescent Hotel, known as “The nation’s most haunted resort hotel” offers ghost tours! You can explore the halls nightly, and even venture underneath the hotel while you hear the tale of its long, strange history.  
We drove over yesterday hoping to see some Fall color, but I think we're about a week early. Funny how Mother Nature decides when the show starts! We've had perfect conditions for the leaves but it's late this year. Eureka was pretty crowded, lots of folks make the trip for the great shopping. We never fail to visit the Crescent Hotel, perched on the crest of West Mountain. The 78-room resort hotel is not only known as one of America’s most distinctive and historic destinations, but it is also said to have spirits that walk the palatial grounds!

As usual, I took a zillion pictures... I just can't control myself when there's history and a camera involved!

Everywhere you looked, the hotel was decorated for Halloween. But this is one of those places that looks the part no matter what time of year you visit.
 I ended up with 78 pictures in all and last night when I posted them on my Facebook wall, I deleted the "bad ones." This morning I went to my trash bin and retrieved the following pictures. "Orbs" or sunspots, what do you think?


So here's the ghost story, it's a true account as reported by Mike Masterson in our state paper, the Arkansas Democrat Gazette a few years ago. He recounted the terrifying experience of friends who spent the night at The Crescent, room 101, The Governor's Suite. Beth Shibley of Burgaw, N.C. had joined her mom Lou Ann Moles (wife of Harrison's mayor Pat Moles) and her sister Lorie Baker for a fun weekend. After a full day of shopping and sightseeing, the three turned in around midnight. Beth and her Mom shared a one bedroom and Lorie was in the other. Shibley, 42, says that while sleeping in a double bed with her mother, something held down her legs and arms and began suffocating her. "It was like a great force of intense pressure pressing down over my whole body, and I couldn't breathe," Shibley, who works as a graphic artist, says of the 2 a.m. experience. Her account as told in USA Today in a special feature on haunted hotels:
“I was awakened by something that started to suffocate me,” Beth said. “I couldn’t breathe and felt an intense pressure on my chest like I was being squeezed against something hard. I couldn’t even draw a breath to shout. . . . I tried reaching to my mother, but my wrists were pinned together on the bed and my arms were being held down with great force.
“My legs wouldn’t move either, except for my right foot, and I started reaching for Mom’s foot under the covers. As soon as my foot touched hers, the pressure stopped and I could breathe, speak and move again. My heart was pounding. I was covered in sweat. There was a horrible smell in the room that was like damp earth and sour sweat, but stronger, almost like sulfur.”
She said she first thought the odor might have come from her sweat soaked nightgown, but the stench had left the room after about 30 minutes. The next morning, the gown still smelled of laundry detergent. Her mother never awoke during the incident, Beth said. “I went back to sleep,” she continued. “At 2:30 a.m., I felt something grab both ankles and jerk me very hard. It pulled me completely under the covers, which had been tucked into the bottom of the mattress. I ended up in the middle of the bed with the covers entirely over my head and my feet off the end of the bed. 
“This time, I could still breathe and shout, so I started yelling and hitting Mom in the area of her kidneys, since I was so far down in the bed. She sat up and asked if I was all right.” Beth said she tried to explain what was happening, but her mother said the story of a bad dream could wait until morning, so Beth leapt from the bed and retrieved her camera, all the while reciting reassuring Scriptures. Lying back down with the camera around her neck and snuggling close to her mother, Beth said she fell asleep with her finger poised on the camera’s shutter button, then lapsed into a vivid dream. “Mom watched me asleep because by now she’d become freaked out. She also watched me taking photographs with my eyes closed even as I slept soundly the rest of that night.”
In her dream, a man wearing a black suit and tie and a top hat appeared at a center fourth-floor window of the hotel. Then six people came up behind him in three pairs. They picked up the man and threw him out the window, but his fall was broken by a rope wrapped around his neck. “I saw his neck jerk to the side, and his hat fell off his head and landed to the right of where I was and watching,” Beth recalled. “I was holding my camera and I focused on the window and snapped a picture. Then I said, ‘Gotcha!’ ” The scene began to fade, but as others came to the window wearing clothing of another period, she continued taking pictures and repeating,“Gotcha!” By then, she said, “I’d come to realize in my dream that I was dealing with something not of this world,” she said. “But I also was no longer afraid.” In all, Lou Ann had watched her daughter snap five pictures in her sleep.
Later, when the film was developed, Beth said that the three women were startled to find one of a misty image leaning over the edge of the bed. A second picture showed the room’s ceiling fan and drapes in focus. “In the top right corner is the outer outline edge of a window with three ropes coming from it in the exact colors of what the pairs of people were wearing in my dream,” Beth said. “They also were holding three ropes in my dreams and the ropes came out of a window. 
“An enlargement showed more glowing red and blue spots in the mist as well as three pairs of little white X’s in a triangle pattern, similar to the way six people came up behind the man in pairs.” 
The next day, she told me, she wandered outside the hotel, which as an institute in the 1930s housed thousands of cancer patients. There she saw the fourth-floor room as she’d seen it in her dreams. It was exactly two floors above her bedroom’s window.
Beth’s story was among several told in a special feature about haunted hotels that was published last week in USA Today. I’ve seen the photos and they are inexplicable.
“This experience has made me aware of things I’d never thought were possible,” she told me. “These manifestations felt demonic. . . . I believe I’m one of the good humans and that’s why the evil spirits hated me so much. I’m thankful everything ended well.” -

This story just sends chills down my spine! If you'd like a little "excitement" here's the link to the Crescent Hotel!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Ellen Side's Never Fail Dumplings

Pink robe on, still wearing summer pj's... I'm in denial. First frost has not arrived in Arkansas but Old Man Winter came early to Chardon, Ohio where Facebook friend Kim lives. She sat in silence this morning as she filmed the early morning weather report on tv. I can feel her pain through the silence!
They are predicting a Cold, snowy winter for Arkansas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Missouri. Well, it's only fair since we've had two mild ones in a row. Last winter I didn't even have to wear my big coat, when I ran errands it was a jacket or a sweater. I have the furnace set on 70 now, with firm resolve to keep it set there. I will fold when it really gets cold outside though! Our gas fireplace does a great job of keeping us toasty when we watch tv at night. "Zone heating," the new word for pot bellied stove! That's how our grandparents kept warm, they huddled around that black stove until their back sides were cooked then turned around and cooked the front!
Sharing a recipe this morning from  Aunt B. She shares her friend Ellen's Never Fail Dumplings. Take that Old Man Winter! 
Ellen Side's Never Fail Dumplings

1 1/2 cups flour

4 tablespoons shortening

1 egg, beaten

5 tablespoons water

1/2 teaspoon salt

Mix flour, salt and shortening. Beat egg and water together then add to the flour mixture, making soft dough. Roll out into thin sheets. Dry 15 minutes or more. Cut into strips and drop into boiling broth. Don't cover. *Ms. Ellen doesn't tell us how long to cook, like most good cooks she just "knows" when they are done. For the rest of us, about 15-20 minutes on the timer should cook these tender dumplings through. Take one out and give a taste-test, maybe taste more than one...


Sunday, October 20, 2013

La Madeleine Bakery's Tomato Basil Parmesan Soup

Such a nice cool weekend, we had our first fire last night! The leaves are turning colors now, I love mornings when the fog lays heavy on the lake. If I have to run into town you see a brave boat of late season fishermen on the cove. My Dad fished year round, it never got too cold for him to be on the lake ♥

I'm a happy camper, holing up in my "hollow tree" makes me feel like making a pot of soup! I've seen several versions of this one on Pinterest, it's a copycat of La Madeleine Bakery's Tomato Basil Soup. I actually combined two recipes, this one is delicious with a grilled cheese on sourdough!

Tomato Basil Parmesan Soup

makes 6 servings
2 (14 oz) cans fire roasted diced tomatoes, with juice
1 cup finely diced celery
1 cup finely diced carrots
1 cup finely diced onions
1 tsp dried oregano
1 T dried basil
4 cups chicken broth
½ bay leaf
½ cup flour
1 cup Parmesan cheese
½ cup butter
1 1/2 cups evaporated milk
1 tsp salt
¼ tsp black pepper

Add tomatoes, celery, carrots, chicken broth, onions, oregano, basil, and bay leaf to your soup pot. Simmer until veges are tender, about an hour. 

Make a roux by melting butter in skillet and adding flour. Stir constantly with a whisk for 3-4 minutes, then stir in several ladles of hot soup. Add back to soup pot and bring to boil to thicken soup. Add Parmesan cheese, evaporated milk, salt and pepper and stir to combine. Serve with slices of your favorite hot bread!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Best Potato Rolls Ever!

Yesterday was overcast and cool, the perfect weather to make bread. I pin a lot of bread recipes on Pinterest, but when the word Best jumped out at me I couldn't wait to make these rolls. This one lives up to it's name, soft, fluffy rolls just like Mom used to make! I took a chance and halved the recipe... sometimes that works OK. We had them last night and I think I heard Angels singing when I pulled them out of the oven!

makes 30-36 dinner rolls
1 cup mashed potatoes, freshly made reserve potato water
2/3 cup  butter, softened
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 cup scalded milk 
5 to 6 cups flour 
1 packet dry active yeast
1/2 cup lukewarm reserved potato water with 1 teaspoon sugar

Boil potatoes until tender. Drain water, reserving 1/2 cup for use in rolls. Finely mash potatoes and measure 1 cup for rolls. Cool mashed potatoes until barely warm. Dissolve yeast  and 1 teaspoon sugar in the lukewarm potato water. Set aside for 5 minutes. In bowl of stand mixer with paddle attachment, mix together mashed potatoes, butter, eggs, sugar, honey and salt. Mix together on medium speed for about 2 minutes.
Add yeast mixture to lukewarm milk. Stir. Add the yeast and milk mixture to the potato mixture. Mix on low speed until blended. Gradually add flour (one cup at a time) until a soft dough forms. Remove from bowl and knead on floured surface for 5 minutes adding only enough flour to keep dough from sticking. Place dough in lightly oiled bowl and then put dough in a slightly warm place. Cover and let the dough double in size. Punch down dough and shape into rolls. Place rolls about 1 1/2 inches apart on baking sheets that have been sprayed lightly with cooking spray. Sprinkle rolls with a little flour once they are in the pans and let dough rise again. Bake in a preheated oven set at 400 degrees for approximately 12 minutes.

*Since I halved the recipe, I used one 9x13 pan, it made 15 big rolls that may or may not make it till Wednesday...
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