Weekday Journalling: Halloween fun, Arroz con Pollo and Christmas Carols?

I haven’t written in days.  I started 2 blog entries and jumped ship.  Writers block. No inspiration.  I guess being home with a cold doesn’t help. My energy levels are low and even the smallest tasks take effort.  Today the proverbial clouds cleared and although my dry cough persists my brain isn’t fogged over. Wish I could say the same for the weather.  The rain came down hard most of today, yesterday too. Luckily it cleared for a few hours, just enough time for Trick or Treating.  I chose to stay out of the soggy cold and enjoyed a night catching up on my new favourite show: The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina and a view of the fireworks going off across the city.



October is my favourite month so when my sister and maid of honour asked what I wanted to do for my bachelorette party, I chose a spooky tour on the Haunted Trolley.  Hosted by WestCoast Sightseeing, about 14 of my closest gals met up in old Gastown at 7pm last saturday where we boarded the trolley, donning witch hats and ready for a night filled with tales of ghosts and cold crime cases.  The trolley trudged it’s way through the pitch black night, through the thick forest trails of Stanley Park, winding through Shaughnessy neighbourhood where we learned of a murder in one of the many mansions that still stand today.  Our first stop was at the Mountainview Cemetary where we visited the graves of some of the characters in the stories we heard along the way. Our last stop was at the old city morgue where we witnessed a pretend autopsy and learned about the many famous dead to grace the morgue with their presence; among them actor Errol Flynn. 44525062_10156517411251023_5591128987880390656_n

Luckily I was in perfect health to enjoy the Halloween festivities this past weekend.  I’ve always wanted to go to VanDusen for their Glow the Garden event. Seth surprised me with tickets and we bundled up Thursday night and spent a couple of hours strolling along pumpkin lined paths, the trees strewn with fairy lights and skeletons and ghouls around every corner. It was a lovely way to spend a blustery October evening and families with children took turns taking photos, enjoying warm drinks in the cafeteria and picking up goodies at the gift shop.  I found some warm gloves to replace the ones I left in my sister’s car and which I probably won’t see until Christmas.


On Saturday night we attended a costume party at the home of an old high school friend of Seths.  House parties are always the best and we prefer them over the bigger parties that tend to get out of hand downtown, not to mention the nightmarish transportation.  I dressed as a Victorian Vampire with a dress of my own, black, lace and a cape I had in our tickle trunk of past costumes.  A quick trip to PartyCity earlier that day for a feather and lace fascinator and my costume cost me all of $9.


On Sunday my Mother in Law hosted her annual Day of the Dead party.  Stations were set up throughout her home as well as outside.  There was pumpkin carving and painting sugar skulls for the children.  I joined in the kitchen and decorated a skull cookie with colourful sprinkles and chocolate almond eyes.  She made Mexican style lasagna for dinner and orange pomegranate trifle for dessert.  I wore a green velvet dress with bell sleeves, thigh high stockings, booties and a witch hat. Everyone was dressed up and we had a wonderful evening as a family.


After all the weekend festivities and indulging in a little too much alcohol, I was craving a grounding home cooked meal.  With ingredients in my pantry and fridge I whipped up a pot of Arroz con Pollo (Colombian style rice with chicken).  More a party dish that usually comes out late in the evening to soak up booze and re-energize the crowd to continue dancing, I just love the simplicity and flavours of this dish.  Here is my recipe for Colombian style Arroz Con Pollo

You will need:

Serves 4


2  Chicken breasts cut into large cubes
1 Bay leaf
2 cloves Garlic
1/2 cup chopped Onion
1/2 red pepper finely chopped
1/2 cup of frozen peas
1 large carrot chopped into small cubes (or grated)
Canned Goods
2 cups Chicken broth
1 small can of diced tomatoes
1 cup Long-Grain rice (I used uncle Ben’s parboiled rice)
1/2 tsp Black pepper, Freshly Ground
1 tsp Salt
1/4 tsp Turmeric
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp spanish sweet paprika
1 tsp old bay seasoning
2 tbsp Olive oil


To a hot skillet, sautee onions until they are soft.  Add the garlic, carrot and chopped red pepper and cook for a few minutes.  Next add the chicken and stir until browned. Sprinkle chicken with salt, paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, black pepper, tumeric and old bay seasoning.  Add the tomatoes and bay leaf.

Cover and cook over a low heat for 15 minutes.  I usually adjust my flavour here adding extra spices if needed.

Now stir in the cup of rice and add the frozen peas. Now add the chicken broth

Cover and cook  for about 30 minutes or until the chicken and rice are tender; stir occasionally.

Remove bay leaf & serve.

This recipe seems to taste even better the next day as the red pepper and pea flavours seep deeper into the rice. It’s great for packing for a work lunch too. I like mine with a small dollop of mayo.  Buen provecho!



Today is November 1st. Autumn is in full swing. The streets are carpeted with colourful leaves and I’ve been enjoying my walks to work taking photos along the way. In 38 days we will be married.  Our wedding plans are coming along and we are really looking forward to celebrating this special time in our lives with our family and friends.  We’ve been so focused on planning the wedding that I haven’t even stopped to think about Christmas. What?? I’m so obsessed with Christmas that I’m usually done my shopping by this time.  I don’t like to shop in packed malls so I shop early then sit back and enjoy the season with a cup of my Nutella hot chocolate with Bailey’s and leave everyone else  to stress out shopping last minute! (For my Nutella Hot Chocolate recipe, click here https://thebellwitchmanor.blog/2017/11/04/jenns-really-good-nutella-hot-chocolate-with-baileys-irish-cream/


One thing I can’t wait for until last minute is polishing up on my piano Christmas carols.  I’ve ordered a book of classic sheet music and am looking forward to playing some different arrangements from the one’s I’ve played year in and year out since childhood.


Thank you for joining me today.  It’s always nice to catch up with you.  Did you enjoy October?  drop me a line or better yet, a photo of your amazing costume.

Until next time.



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