Tuesday, November 30, 2010

What do you think about WikiLeaks?

I had been going to post an offshoot of my Toxic People post from yesterday, but with all the crazy WikiLeaks crap going on, I'm going to give my 2 cents. 

I think that the principal behind the idea of WikiLeaks is a great thing.  Governments should not hide as much as they do from us.  I don't like being lied to by my government.  I think it's great that people feel that they can really stand up to that.

That said, the world stage is shaky enough right now.  Iraq, Afghanistan, now the Koreas?  What next?  I heard on the news the other day that because of the Armistice, Canada will pretty much be obligated to go over there if there is a war.  I don't want that, not with my brother wanting to join the army.  Beyond that, there is no place in a civilized world for war.  It's times like this when I wish I knew a spell that would smack people upside the head and tell them, "What the EFF are you doing?!"

I think the best we can do is hope that governments around the world do a decent job of damage control.  That's doesn't often happen, but we can hope, right?  The last thing we need is for some crazy over-confidant dictator to get a hold of sensitive information and think they can finally attack the world.

Did you know that November 17th was World Peace Day?  How many of us knew, or observed it if we did?  The make every day Earth Day campaign is great, but the earth will heal itself after we've all killed ourselves off.  I think we need to make a "Everyday is World Peace Day" campaign, and place greater importance on that.  Once we quit fighting each other, we can work together fighting what we've done to our plant. 

I realize that I kind of went off on a tangent here.  My original point, what do you think of WikiLeaks?  Do you agree with what they are doing, or do you think they are only making an unsteady world that much more shaky?  Do you think WikiLeaks could do something better, or different?  What's your opinions?

Hoping for less craziness,

Goddess Bless

S.

Monday, November 29, 2010

The Toxic People Problem

This is something that is becoming more and more common.  It's not that there weren't always toxic people.  It's that we aren't "allowed" to do anything about them anymore.  We are taught from such an early age to treat others as we would want to be treated, to always be nice, to be the better person.  In most cases, this works out just fine.

However, there are those cases of the toxic "friend".  The one that owes you money.  "I'll give it to you next paycheck, just let me buy a new Blackberry...".  The one that gives the hidden barbs about anything from clothing style to the car you drive.  "I wouldn't be caught dead with one of those, oh wait, you have one?  Right...".  There are so many different types that I couldn't name them all.  You know the one that is in your life.  We all have one.  Sometimes they end up being people we work with, in which case we really can't do anything about them.  Sometimes, though, we can.

Unfortunately, mine is someone that I've been friends with for the better part of a decade.  We stayed friends through a cross country move or three, through a bitter period where he suddenly became a born again Christian and tried constantly to convert me.  We've been through the deaths of mutual friends and steady decline of his mother.  Through abusive relationships.  Through break-ups and hard luck.  We've shared a multitude of jokes, pranks,  and silly things.  We've shared music, and singing and and long drives in the middle of the night.  He used to be my best friend.  About 4 or 5 years ago, though, we changed.

I grew up.  I went through a whole string of bad relationships in a row, had a couple epiphanies, and decided to change the way I was living.  He didn't.  He continues to party and spend his money on ridiculous things that he has no use for.  On vehicles he can't drive because he has never gotten his driver's license.  On 400 dollar phones, and no, he doesn't need it for work.  All this while owing me almost 300 dollars.  Which he has owed me for about 3 years.  Did I ever really expect to get it back?  No.  Would it be nice?  Yes.  I'm finding myself realizing of late the only reason I continue to suffer through his constant "I screwed up my life again, what do I do now?" phone calls is because I'm harboring some deluded hope of ever seeing the money.  So I'm putting a stop to it.  I told him that he needed to give me the money by November 30th, and that was only because we have been friends for so long.  I don't expect to see it, but I needed to put a date on "it".  On the end of the friendship.

I'm going to write him a long letter, explaining how I've changed and how I feel he hasn't changed.  On how I feel used by him, and just generally letting him know how I feel.  I told Sean this, and he said "Why?  Just don't talk to him anymore.".  Maybe it's just a guy response, but I know personally I would want the closure for myself and for my old friend.

The first thing when dealing with a toxic friend is to realize that they are, in fact, toxic.  Without this, there is nothing else.  It took me a long time to realize this, and I've been struggling with what to do about it for several months now.  You have to realize why you need to cleanse your life of these people.  Toxic people drain your self respect, your health, your sanity.  You need to accept that the issues they have that make them toxic are not your fault.  You need to realize that these people would be this way regardless, and that you have no responsibility to them whatsoever.  If you can't physically cut ties with the person, if you have to see them every day for work, then you need to mentally cut ties with that person.  If you allow them to bother you, to use you, to hurt you, to control you, then they win.  It's as simple as that.  It's all about winning control over your own life again.  When you cut ties with someone mentally or physically, it is important to have a relationship with a good support system in place.  I have my husband and several real friends that I can (and already do) turn to, so the only think I personally need to do is cut the ties.  And let me tell you, writing about it is a whole lost easier than actually doing it is going to be.

A Spell to Remove A Toxic Person's Hold on You

Items Needed: 
Regular Ritual Items
1 Clove Garlic, crushed
A few Kernels of Cracked Black Pepper
A White Candle
A piece of paper with the person's name written on it
A cupful of water

This is best done during a waning crescent moon.  Cast a circle.  Light your candle.  On your altar, mix the Garlic and Black Pepper together.  Rub the Garlic and Pepper mixture on the paper with the person's name on it, saying "By hurting me you only hurt yourself.  I release myself from your hold.  Begone from my life."  Light the paper with the candle, saying, "With this flame I cleanse myself of you.  I purify my life.  I will no longer be held back by you."  Place the burning paper in your cauldron (or a bowl) and as it burns, visualize the person's hold on you being lifted and floating away like ash on the wind, leaving you free.  When the paper has burned completely, pour your cupful of water on top of the ash, visualizing the flowing water carrying the person's toxicity away.  Say, "You no longer have a hold on me.  Like this water, I am free and flowing where I will.  As I will, so mote it be."

Empty the water from the cauldron or bowl down the sink, and watch your toxic "friend" drain out of your life.

I sincerely hope that this helps someone else dealing with a toxic friend, it's not an easy thing to do.  It is necessary though.  We need to detach in order to regain control of our lives.  Even while we are dwelling on what to do about the toxic people in our lives, remember to let your true friends know how much it helps that they are there for you! 

Goddess Bless,

S.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

What a night.

I had such a terrible sleep!  We are all sick in this house, Sean and Brianna are just getting over it and mine is starting to get worse.  My throat feels like I swallowed a million nails.  Okay, maybe not that many.  You get the idea.  On top of all that, I had nightmares all night last night.

Actually, just one nightmare.  It was on of those recurring ones, though.  Every time I woke up, I tried to shake it off, went and got a drink of water.  The minute I fell asleep it started all over again.  It really bugged me, but at least I know what it means.

It starts off with me in bed, Sean telling me that he will have to come and get me in half an hour because he has to leave for work and Brianna isn't sleeping.  So I'm laying there, and I can't get back to sleep.  So I get up, and realize I'm in this dungeon thing.  The bed is there, it's just a dungeon.  There are high brick walls, at least 20 feet high.  It's damp, there is hardly any light.  It feels mossy.  Directly across from the foot of the bed is a ladder, leading up to a circular gated opening.  So I climb up, and go through the gate.  Then a specter shows up.  It's all different shades of blues, it's floating and wispy.  It's Kevin, the husband of my friend Steph.  He's telling me I can't get through, that I have to go back.  And he starts throwing Ninja stars at me!  The little four pointed ones.  So I catch each one (I'm so not that coordinated in real life, trust me.) and throw them back at him, and eventually "kill" him that way.  He reappears though.  He tells me I have to go into the next hallway, and suddenly he is behind me pushing me through the halls so fast everything just looks like a blur.  Then as suddenly as it started, everything comes to a stop in front of a gate similar to the first.  I go through the gate and there is my friend Steph!  She has this beautiful long blond hair, but in specter form it's like she's channeling Galadriel from Lord of the Rings when she goes all crazy for a minute.
Galadriel from Tolkien Forums

Then Steph tells me the same thing her husband did, that I can't get through and have to go back.  Then SHE starts throwing Ninja stars at me!  But these were 7 pointed!!  Again, I had to catch them and throw them back and "kill" her.  Then she appeared behind me and told me I had to go on, and pushed me super fast down to the next gate.  At this gate nothing appeared, it was like my dream was giving me a rest.  My dream self got to walk all the way to the next gate.  The next gate it was my Dad, and the one after him was my Brother.  My brother had throwing axes.  It was weird.

Finally I got out to our living room (don't ask, I have no idea) and Sean said I could have slept for another couple of hours, he has no clue what I'm talking about.

Then I wake up.  I think I had this dream for couple reasons.  Part of it being I'm sick, but mostly I think because I despair of ever getting a real sleep ever again.  I think another part of it was the fact that I ate so close to bedtime.  To my lament, I've discovered through Blogs of Note this blog called "The Chubby Vegetarian" and he has some AMAZING recipes on there.  This Dutch Baby being one of them.  Of course, we only had icing sugar on ours, and it was so good.  I can think of dozens of applications for this recipe,  and I'm seriously considering having it for every meal today.  I'm not a vegetarian and never will be, what with Sean being a butcher and all.  I still think I'm going to be going there for a lot of recipes. 

So I guess this was a fairly long post.  I only meant to explain that I was planning on taking the day off seeing as I'm so tired.  I guess I didn't though!  Hope everyone has a better day than I had a night.  Goddess Willing, I'll get a decent sleep tonight!

Goddess Bless,

S.

As a side note, if anyone has a good sleep spell to recommend, bring it on!  Mine don't seem to be working lately.  

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Yule Symbols

I'm posting a lot about Yule lately.  If it starts to get boring, let me know!  I guess I'm just excited about this being the first year that we are going to have a family Ritual.  So I thought I would share my thoughts on the symbols of Yule. 

First, we have colors.  Personally, I use White, Silver, Blue, Red, Green, and Gold/Yellow.  Now, a lot of websites tell you what color is for Yule, Imbolc, Litha, etc. without explaining why the author thinks so.  This always kind of bugged me, because we are each doing this a different way.  I thought we didn't want to be told to do things a certain way!  So, my reasons are these, and keep in mind they are my personal reasons and thoughts.

White is the color of the snow, of purity and hope. 
Silver is the color of the moonlight on snow, the feminine aspect and tradition.
Blue is the color of the ice in shadow, a feeling a calm, and sincerity.
Red is the color of the Holly Berry, the life force, and strength.
Green is the color of the Evergreen, of rejuvination, luck and success.
Gold is the color of the Sun, reborn; of the male aspect and intelligence.

These to me are the colors of Yule, and to me they all have a special meaning to bring to the holiday.  They all bring something nessecary to lasting through the cold winter months, and they symbolize something about the winter months.  Then we come to physical symbols.  Things like the Yule log, fruit studded with cloves, the Yule Tree, wreathes, and fire.  Again, the reasons for these are my own. 

Yule Logs are traditionally to be burned for all the nights of Yule, I think this started because of how cold it got and no one wanted to go out for firewood!  Being that most of us no longer need to do that, what has the tradition become?  More of a "remember when we had to do these things?" tradition.  Personally, I like a Yule Log candle holder.  It still shows that we remember where we come from, but are not slaves to it.

Clove studded Fruit is another one that shows that we remember how it used to be.  When everyone was so excited to have fresh fruit to eat!  The reason for the cloves is because they actually helped the fruit to stay fresh for a longer period.  Now that we don't need to worry about our fruit going bad anymore (Thank you, supermarkets everywhere!) we still do this as a way to remember how it used to be.  I think they smell fabulous, and a clove studded apple is a great addition to a pot of Wassail for decoration and taste.

Yule Trees and Wreathes symbolize the continuation of life.  Even if we don't see it under all that snow, life is still going on.  The whole northern hemisphere doesn't die off just because it's winter!  The Yule tree also symbolizes the strength that our ancestors needed to push through the winter months, seemingly without hope of warmer weather.  It still feels like that sometimes, but we all know better.

Fire I think is pretty obvious.  Without it, we wouldn't be where we are as a society, people or spieces.  Fire keeps us warm, cooks our food, warms our drink, and keeps us alive.  At least, it did before the advent of natural gas and electric heaters.  Without it, so many of our ancestors would have died off that we wouldn't have a world population in the billions right now. 

So there it is...I'm not going to get into gemstones or incense or herbs or food right now.  I will have a post on Yule food later in the week, but not today.  Everyone has their own favorite things that symbolize the Sabbats to them, but how many of us ever think of why?  Do we just take these lists out of books, off of websites, pick them randomly out of the color scheme of the Sears Catalog?  If we are going to call ourselves truly spiritual, we need to think about the choices we make and why.  It's great to be able to have such a wealth of information about our craft at our fingertips, but unless we think about why we are using it and what for, it's a redundant effort.

Friday, November 26, 2010

A Yule Tree...do you have one?

Yule Greeting Card from Dragon Moon gifts.
I grew up in a typical house.  Not that my parents were overly Christian, in fact they were more the opposite.  We still called our tree a Christmas Tree.  No matter how long I've been following this path I'm on, I STILL find myself calling it a Christmas Tree, instead of a Yule Tree.  I decorate a little differently, more organically.  No matter how many people say the Christmas Tree was a pagan symbol originally, etc. etc., it's just beating a dead horse.  It will be a point of contention for as long as I'm alive, I'm sure.  So I started thinking, do most pagans have a Yule Tree?  Or do they just string around holly that they put ornaments on?  We usually decorate our tree with solar symbols and fruit shapes, as well as other natural(ish) things.  Having little experience (actually, make that none)  celebrating Yule with other Wiccans, I really have no clue.  All I know is that it's all I can do to get Sean to bring ours in from the shed.  I've mentioned it 4 times this week.  Where is it?  Still in the shed.  You know, I don't think he realizes that this means it will be up longer after Yule because I won't have had my fill of it yet. But I digress.


The first thing that comes up on Google when you search "Yule Tree" a Wikipedia link about Christmas Trees.  The second is a link about the Icelandic Yule Tree, which seems to be much the same as a Christmas tree.  Then, fourth link on the page, is from Earth Witchery.  Finally!  A pagan link.  It's a great one too.  It covers the Yule/Solstice Tree, decorations, a blessing for it.  Check it out.  It's really a nice site.


So now I feel a little more normal.  At least I'm not to only one.  That's the problem with being a solitary practitioner for so many years, I've sort of lost touch with what other pagans are doing.  It's easy enough to find stuff on the internet about what the colors, symbols, foods, etc. are of Yule.  It's hard to find things that people are personally doing.  There are dozens of pages of Magickal Correspondences, but not so many of anyone's experience. 


So let me know!  Do you have a Yule Tree?  How do you decorate it?  If you don't have one, what do you do/decorate for Yule?

Goddess Bless,

S.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Random Thursday

Well, Happy Thanksgiving all you Americans out there!  This week is one of the big travel weeks of the year, and with the the new scans and pat downs, I'm curious as to how many will forgo the flying.  Although, we may not have to!  A Colorado man has invented a type of underwear to protect your dignity as you go through the scans.  It uses powdered metal, and I don't think it lowers your risk of cancer, but nothing is a fix all, right?  Check out that link here.  The men's underwear has a fig leaf, and the women's has clasped hands.

As I understand it, tomorrow is the big shopping day down there.  Black Friday?  I'd never even heard of this until a couple years ago.  Being that we are where we are in the month though, I thought I'd look it up.  There are a whole bunch of theories as to why it's called Black Friday.  Accounting terms, and Gold market crashes, among other things, are among them.  Check them out here, it's pretty interesting!  Being that we are on the topic of shopping, something we all have to be aware of are the toys we buy our kids.  A consumer group has come out with a list of toys that they consider dangerous, citing some cases where children died of choking, and on died of lead poisoning by swallowing a bracelet charm that contained (wait for it) 99% lead.  There are also concerns this year about certain chemicals, which the article says are used to keep plastic supple. 

"The chemicals are known to cause reproductive problems, such as abnormal genital development in boys, and disruption in sexual development. They're also linked to premature birth, early onset puberty and lower sperm counts. "  Among the toys that contains these chemicals?  A Dora the Explorer Backpack.  The full article is here.  Just so you don't lose all faith in the toy makers of the world, here is the list of top toys for the season! 

Considering the prices associated with Black Friday sales, a lot of people are probably going to be buying new internet toys.  PCs, iPads, Blackberrys.  We all have so many devices that each has their own IP (internet protocol) address.  I'd tell you to wait, considering this article from CBC, What happens when the internet runs out of IPs?  If you don't have the time to read the article, they do have a system that can be put into place.  One that has room for "340 undecillion addresses - That's a real word - which is 340 followed by 36 zeros.  According to the article, the last IP from the current system will be handed out sometime in 2011.  Then a lot of us will have to upgrade hardware and software, because it will no longer be compatable.  Given all of this, I'd wait until next year to buy a new piece of hardware.  
If you ever see an article that sounds like something I'd like to mention on my Random Thursdays, send me the link!
Hope you all have a great day, and all the Americans a Happy Thanksgiving!!

Goddess Bless, 

S.


Wednesday, November 24, 2010

A Homemade Yule - Part Two

Well, today was supposed to be all about homemade ornaments and decorations.  And it still is!  Just not the way I would have liked.  Brianna has been having sleep issues, might be lactose intolerant, and is just getting over the flu.  So, I've not had as much time as I wanted to do these crafty type things!

But fear not!  I have links!  And also ideas.  We kept forgetting to buy salt this week as well, and I didn't have enough on hand to do any salt dough. I really love this salt dough recipe on Artsncrafts-ideas.com, mostly because they give two ways to use it.  What I would make with this?  I would use my pumpkin cookie cutter and make apples!  Paint the stems brown, the rest red, and add some green felt for a leaf!  What is more Yule-y than apple cider?  Or Apple Crisp?!  I would also make some Suns, and maybe some Mistletoe.

I did crochet some ornaments, though.  That's something I can do even while we are trying to get Brianna to sleep.  I love these Ribbon Candy Ornaments on the Family Fun website.  I didn't have any ribbon in an appropriate color, though.  So I crocheted one.  I used a cream colored yarn and a maroon colored yarn.  I chained 32, and single chained 30 for each of the 3 rows.  Then I took a needle and thread and sewed through the middle to get it to stay together.  Then I just put an ornament hook through it, and voila! A crocheted ribbon ornament.  I do want to make some  with actual ribbon, but that will have to wait until I find some ribbon I like.  I'm ridiculously picky about my ribbon.

Next, I made an apple.  I think I did a decent job on it because when Sean saw it he said, "Hey!  An apple!".  I got the idea for this one from Crochet Pattern Central.  I don't even remember what I was searching for a pattern for, maybe hats, actually.  And then I saw their food page.  There are some seriously cute things on there.  If you only have a little time, you at least have to look at the "half dozen eggs" one.  It's super cute.  The bacon slices are pretty neat as well.  Okay, back to the apple!

For this I chained 6, joined, and did a single stitch all the way around the first row.  For the second row, I did two single stitches in every other loop.  Then I joined, crocheted a little brown stem and joined it on.  And then I crocheted a wee leaf and joined that on as well.  It's sort of hard to see the stem in the picture, but it's there!  I used the same maroon colored wool from the ribbon ornament, as well as some fuzzy brown wool that I usually use for doll hair for the stem.  And then I used some sage green yarn for the leaf.  I think it turned out pretty good!  Especially since I didn't have a pattern.  I'm sort of like that though.  I just go off on a tangent, all willy nilly.  You know, I like that term.  Willy nilly.  Nobody uses it enough anymore.

As well as these, you can do the popcorn and cranberry strings.  I also love this felt candle ornament on Kaboose.  The only limit you have is your imagination.  If you don't know how to crochet, it's easy to learn!  You can find dozens of videos on You Tube of people showing different crochet stitches.  I'm making (still) an afghan, it's a great way to stay warm in the winter.  This is the second year I've been working on it, and I really hope to finish it this year.  There is nothing you can't learn from the internet, and it is infinitely more satisfying to make something yourself than it is to buy it.

Happy Crafting!

S.

Update:  Here is the link to A Homemade Yule - Part One

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

A Family Yule Ritual

Well, in a comment a day (or two) ago, Jen at Live Wicca mentioned some things how having children in a Ritual can change it, what changes are there?  It was a wonderful idea, although I'm sure that she had no idea the hornet's nest of CRAZINESS abounding on page one of my Google search.  While attempting to look up some rituals that included children that I could link to this post, I came to the conclusion that perhaps, Pagans don't have children!

Just kidding, of course.  In all seriousness, though, there aren't a whole lot of places I found that have rituals including children.  One link led to a book store.  One led to a Wiccan childbirth Ritual, (link here)and while interesting in itself, was not what I was looking for.  I couldn't even read all of the stuff I found, some of it was so crazy.  Like this guy who believed that abortion was part of the Wiccan Agenda because we practice a religion of child sacrifice.  Granted, he got some of the information in his article correct, but mostly...well, I don't really have words.  I'm not even going to link it.  I'm all for free speech, but this guy was nuts.  And something else about Egyptian light bulbs?!  I have no idea.

Regardless, there isn't a lot to be found about including children in rituals.  So following common sense, here are some ideas.  Depending on the age of the child, you might want to have your ritual in a play yard.  If you don't know what a play yard is, it's essentially a portable fence made out of baby gates.  Especially at this age, the children aren't really aware of what is going on anyway, so it might be easier to do the ritual after they are in bed.  I plan on letting Brianna ring some bells and play on some instruments during our Yule ritual.  She loves to drum, even if she can't hold a beat yet!  She is still too little to have her do anything more that this, but I love including her.

For children who are a little older, they could call some of the parts of the circle.  Rituals involving children generally have to be a little shorter than usually, just because of the difference in attention span.  Another consideration would be the use of sharp objects, like swords or athames, and using apple or grape juice instead of ale for cakes and ale.

I've been looking up a lot of Yule Rituals lately, and one I've found that I really like is this one here, on about.com.  This is the one I think we are going to end up going with, because it will be easy to shorten and easy to do!  I think that is truly the key to a Ritual with children, make it easy!  If you try to do something elaborate, it's not going to work.  If you try to make your words all formal with thees and thous all over the place, the kids aren't going to be able to understand an iota of it all.  I think that is the hardest thing to get used to, because most of us who did solitary practice for so many years get stuck in our ruts.  I used to have my altar in my main room, all set up and perfect.  I'd put offerings in it every day.  Now?  All of the altar supplies are in a box in my bedroom.  We don't have the room in our 900 sq foot house for everything.  We have been trying to find some kind of cabinet to put our things in, where the top can serve as our altar, but so far the search goes on.  One thing I am going to try with Brianna is giving her a "wand" of her own, so that she can wave it around while we are casting the circle.  With toddlers and babies, the biggest thing will be keeping them occupied.  So at the beginning we will give Brianna the wand, then the bell, then the wand, etc. as we get further along.  So, here it is.  My shortened, baby/toddler/child friendly version of the above ritual.  Some of it will be taken directly from the above Ritual.  Why mess with a good thing, right?

Orange Candle
The first thing is to have your Yule feast.  This is fabulous, as the more my child has had to eat, the happier she is.  A happy child equals an easy child.  After cleanup, set your altar with candles, as many as you want.  In the center, place a sun colored (gold, yellow, orange, etc.) candle on some plates so that it is higher than the rest.  I like the orange mini candle to the left, from Dragon Moon Gifts.  I'm planning on using 9 candles, the sun candle in the center with 8 surrounding it.  It's enough to convey the message but not so many that a child will get bored in the amount of time needed to light them all.  Turn off all other lights ( or most, depending on if your child is afraid of the dark ) and cast a circle if you are going to do so.  At this point you would give a child Brianna's age (toddler) a small wand to play with.  For an older child, they can help you call the spirits for the circle.  I'm a big believer in using rhyming words in my work, just because I think it flows nicely.  Hence, I've made up my own rhyme, though it is similar to the original. 

Face the candles and say:

The Wheel of the year, turned once more;
The days are longer than before.
Tonight the darkness begins to recede;
The light to shine again on hallowed seed.
As the Wheel continues to roam,
The Sun begins it's journey home.

At this point, small children will be getting bored with their "wand".  This is where I would give a bell.

Light the Sun candle and say:

Even in the darkest hours,
Even on the longest night,
The spark of life was burning bright.
Laying dormant, waiting, ready to return

Taking it's place on this Wheel's pattern.
The darkness will leave until next year,
As the sun decides to reappear.


At this point I would your child's other instruments on the floor, so she/he can go to them when they wish and you don't have to be distracted from candle lighting.


You can then start to light each surrounding candle.  If you are using more than 9, or have them spread out over a larger area, start with the closest one first and work out.  As you light each candle, say,

As the Wheel turns, light returns.

Once all of the candles are lit say,

We are blessed by the return of light,
The shadows vanish with dark of night.

Take some time to think about what the return of the sun means to you and your family.  You can now turn the lights in the house on again.  The original Ritual has a great suggestion, if you have kids make a game out of it!  Go around turning on lights, the kids can yell, "Welcome back, light!"  Now is the time for Cakes and Ale, or cookies and Wassail!  When done, extinguish the candles in the opposite order they were lit.

I would suggest not using an altar cloth, simply because it would be too easy for a child to pull it - and the candles - off the table. 

I hope this was informative, and clear.  Some of it (a lot of it) was written with a squirming, whiny, not wanting to sleep Brianna on my lap.  If you find an error, please let me know! 

Hope everyone enjoys!

Goddess Bless,

S.



Monday, November 22, 2010

Ritual Clothing...and a little funny.

Sean and I were recently discussing our need for new ritual clothing.  Having had mine for ten years now, it's very holey (HA!) and I've given it a proper burial, so to speak.  Sean has never had ritual clothes.  We were discussing what each of us thought was proper ritual attire, and we each had very different ideas on what we wanted.

I usually prefer to wear a simple broomstick skirt or a circle skirt, as well as a t-shirt.  The reason for this?  For one, it's washable.  The delicate lace and velvet that so many chose look great, but they aren't washable enough for me.  I like to be able to put something through the washer and not worry too much that the fabric is going to disintegrate.  Second, it's practical.  These are things that if I suddenly need to replace them, I can get just about anywhere.  Also, a short sleeved shirt has much less of a chance of catching on fire when accidentally placed over a candle.  I do like to wear a cloak when I have one, although I haven't in years.  Typically I like the colors of blue, white, or silver, mostly because a lot of the work I do involves healing.

Sean, on the other hand, wants a robe.  A green one, similar to a druid robe.  I think he likes green because of the balancing effect it has.  When I asked him what he would wear under it, he said, "do I need to wear anything?"  This is a man who wears a winter jacket in the middle of summer because "It's so freaking cold!!"  So we're slowly figuring it out.  The thing I really like about wearing Ritual clothing is that it picks up energy from the rituals you do while wearing it.  I mean, we can't go wrong with a bit more energy behind us, right?  I'm far from strict about it though.  Far from the clothes making the Witch, in this case the Witch makes the clothes!  Or at least tries, as much as possible.  In all seriousness though, none of us really needs special clothes to wear.  They can store energy and help us get in the right mindset, sure.  The real power, though, comes from the Goddess, the God and the Witch.

This conversation Sean and I had did get me thinking.  What does everyone else where for Rituals?  Regular clothing, or something special?  If I had all the money in the world, you bet I'd be wearing some serious period garb.  Sean would probably dress like Thor.  So, what do you wear for Rituals?  What would you wear if you could afford anything?

On a less serious but still pagan-y (paganesque?) note, Sean is having trouble saying pentagram lately.  We've been discussing banishing pentagrams.  So, what does he call it?  A pentagon.  Yeah, that's right.  He came over to me yesterday and said, "So, about those banishing pentagons..."  It took me a couple seconds, but I just cracked.  I laughed so hard I cried.  He looked so serious about it too!

So I just thought I would share the funny.

Goddess Bless!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Missing Persons

You know when you walk into a Walmart, they always have that wall of pictures up?  The ones of missing adults and children with the poor attempts of age progression?  This boy went missing when he was 3, can you recognize him now?  This girl ran away at 13, she should be 18 now.  Where is she?

Most of us walk by these walls without a second thought.  Sometimes, we will get caught by a picture, but usually that's because it is unusually clear compared to the almost 8-bit graininess of the others.  You hear a lot of that kind of thing in the news these days, like the missing McCann family here in Alberta.  Now, you never know anyone that you hear about in the news.  You've never met them, you've never talked to them.  That makes it easy not to care.

Since the weekend of November 14, this man, Martin Laing, has been missing from near my hometown.  Normally, I don't even read my hometown news.  My mother told me about this.  Why, you ask?  What's one more missing person?  This man is my mother's cousins son.  My mom confirmed it yesterday.  In some strange way, he and I are related.  Even if it is very far removed.  My mom has a huge family, so I'm not sure if I've ever even met him.  That doesn't really matter though.  What matters is someone from my (very extended) family has been missing for a week now.  And it doesn't matter if he IS from the very extended portion of my family.  He is still family.

I also know that out of all of the few people who look at my blog everyday, no one has probably even heard anything about this!  But I ask everyone to please keep him, and his (immediate) family, in your thoughts.

Goddess willing, they'll find him.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Consecration of Tools

As I write, it's only about 30 days until Yule.  We have never really done a ritual together for a Sabbat.  Sean only took a real interest in Wicca in the last couple of years, and never felt comfortable doing a ritual.  I, on the other hand, have practiced as a solitary for so many years that it almost seems awkward to perform a ritual with other people!  We are both going to get over these things eventually however.    This year, we are doing a full ritual.  We feel that with Brianna here, we should start giving her a foundation in our faith early.  We want her to be able to say she does have a faith.  If she chooses to change it later, that's just fine.  For the time being, we want to be able to have her participate with us as far as she can for her age.

For me, the first step to any ritual is the consecration of tools.  If I have a new tool, I consecrate it.  Otherwise, I cleanse my well loved (used!) tools.  I usually reconsecrate my tools once a year, who knows what they've picked up in that time!  You can find a lot of great guides and rituals for consecrating online.  Most of them that I've found, however, talk about placing your tools outside under the moon.  I have an issue with this, or rather, several issues.

First, It's a beautiful idea, but not really practical.  As a semi-urban Witch, I just don't feel comfortable leaving my well used and loved tools that I've imbibed with all this energy outside where anyone can hop into my yard and pick them up.

Second, for a few years we lived in basements or apartments.  How are you going to do it then?  In an apartment you don't normally have access to enough room outdoors to be able to do this.  In a basement suite, sure you can use the back yard.  It's co-use, after all.  What's this??  Oops!  Your house-mate's dogs peed on all of your tools!  And no, this didn't actually happen to me!  I didn't want it to.  That is the reason I didn't use the back yard.

Third, what if you live in a cold climate and do your consecrations in the winter?  Like me?  We have at least half a foot of snow on the ground right now.  I don't know about you, but I'm not going out in that and leaving my tools out there.  I'm not going out there long enough to do a ritual out there right now!  It's -26 C!

So, what options do we have?  There are a couple of great online rituals for consecration.  I do like this one at about.com, although I prefer one that is more short and sweet.  I do like to do it on a full moon, although I can't necessarily be IN the moonlight! 

Tool Consecration

Items needed:

A bowl of sea salt or earth
A bowl of consecrated water
Incense to burn
A white candle
Item(s) to be consecrated

There is no need to cast a circle for this, although you can do so if you like or you can do this at the end of other rituals in an already cast circle.

Light the incense and the candle.  Hold in your hands the item to be consecrated.  Say, "God and Goddess, powers that be, please be present while I consecrate this (item)".

Sprinkle the item with salt three times, saying "Spirits of Earth, bless this (item).  Consecrate it to my use."
Pass the item through the incense smoke three times, saying "Spirits of Air, bless this (item).  Consecrate it to my use."
Sprinkle the item with the water three times, saying "Spirits of Water, bless this (item).  Consecrate it to my use."

Pass the item through the candle fire three times, saying "Spirits of Fire, bless this (item).  Consecrate it to my use."

Hold the item up towards the sky, saying, "Goddess and God, please bless this (item) for my use.  I Consecrate and charge it in your name.  Let my will be done, so mote it be."

Your item is now consecrated.  I know this is a fairly short consecration ritual, mostly because I have a one year old!  I make what time I can for my Craft, although it falls short of what I wish it could be.  I'm also going to include my way of consecrating water!  It's a little bit different, I'll warn you.  Remember that I live in Canada while you're reading it!

Consecrated Water

Items needed:

Boiling water
Large Jar (a canning jar will do)
Sea salt or coarse salt, you can make it smaller in your mortar and pestle if you think it's too large.
SNOW!

Bring water to a boil.  I use my electric kettle.  Pour the boiling water in the jar to sterilize it.  Empty the water out of the jar.  Go outside with the jar and scoop untouched snow into it.  Pack the snow down as much as your hands can handle until the jar is full.  Say, "Goddess and God, please bless this snow I gather.  Charge it with your power."

Go inside and sprinkle the salt on top of the snow in the jar, saying, "Bless this snow which will become our consecrated water.  Charge it to my use.  Let my will be done, so mote it be."

Leave the jar on your windowsill (or near a window/natural light/etc) for 7 days.  During that time the snow will melt, you may have to wipe your counter off every now and then!  At the end of the seven days, your consecrated water will be ready to use!  You can also substitute rain water or spring water for the snow.  This usually makes enough for me for all year, so I usually only use snow.  Occasionally I do use spring water when in a pinch, though.

This is what works best for me.  As you probably know, we all need something a little different.  What ever works best for you is what you need!  And since our Yule ritual is coming up, we will need to go over it again and again to find something that works for all three of us.  It's isn't your ritual unless you feel it!  Speaking of rituals, check out this wonderful blog post from Jen at Live Wicca about how Wiccans are often viewing rituals these days.

Best of luck in your consecrating endeavors!

S.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Cheeseburger Casserole



Today is a recipe day!  Gods willing the next time I make this my husband doesn't eat it all again.  I was sort of looking forward to leftovers.

This is one of the most amazing casseroles I've ever made.  It literally tastes like a McDonald's Cheeseburger.  I cannot describe the awesomeness.  After Sean finished his first helping, he said, and I quote, "So, we're having this every day now, right?!".  I found this on the Taste of Home website, here is the link.  I used a little less cheese and more mustard.  This time,  I have pictures of the whole process!

So here it is, the fabulous, amazing, cheeseburger casserole.




First, brown 1 lb ground beef and 1/4 cup onion, diced. 


Next, add 1/4 of garlic dill pickle, dice, 1/2 cup of ketchup, 1/2 cup water and 1 to 1.5 Tbsp mustard.  I personally have a small mustard addiction, so I used 1.5 Tbsp.  Once you stir it up, it should look like the picture on the right.


Pour all into a 9x9 Casserole dish.  This recipe is supposed to make 6 servings.  To that, I say HA!  You haven't seen my husband eat.  This is 4 servings. 


Next, you'll need an 8 oz tube of crescent rolls, enough cheese to fit in a layer in the casserole, about a Tbsp of milk, and sesame seeds.  The recipe calls for 1 1/2 cups of cheese, I didn't really think it needed that much.  If you were grating cheese, this is about 3/4 cup.  Layer the cheese over top of the beef mixture. 


Then, you add the crescent roll as the crust.  What I usually do is just mash the whole thing into a ball and roll it out with my rolling pin, but you can do what works best for you.  Pinching the seams never really works for me, unfortunately.  You also may be able to see that I did not roll it out to fit all the way up to the edges.  I did this so there would be some steam escape, instead of slicing the top of my just-rolled dough.  You can make slices for steam escape if you like, this is just my preference.  Next, brush milk on the top, and add the sesame seeds.  Then bake at 375 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes.

And THIS is the finished product.



The bubbly cheesy goodness spilling out.  This was so amazing.   This is my favorite picture right now.  Doesn't it even sort of look like a cheeseburger?!

Here is the ingredient list:

1 lb lean ground beef
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup chopped dill pickles
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup ketchup
1 - 1.5 tablespoon yellow mustard
1/8 teaspoon pepper
3/4 cups Cheddar cheese, sliced or grated (more if you want)
1 can 8 oz can Crescent Roll
1 Tbsp Milk
1 - 2  tablespoon sesame seeds

I hope your endeavors to make this turn out as awesome as ours did!  This is definitely a make again meal for us.

Happy Cooking!

S.



Thursday, November 18, 2010

Random Thursday

This must be Thursday. I never could get the hang of Thursdays.  -   Douglas Adams
Thursdays are usually my Mondays.  I just feel tired on Thursdays!  So I'm just going to write about a bunch of random things that intrest me, yet wouldn't be long enough for a full post.  

First off, It's official. I'm a geek.  HA!  That's alright though, I married an even bigger one.  I'm super excited today!  13 people from Canada helped capture particles of Antimatter.  As long as the ever elusive "they" use it correctly, it is a great discovery.  The big excitement of this?  The possibility of using antimatter as rocket fuel.  Essentially,  antiparticles make up antimatter just like particles make up matter.  From Wikipedia:  "For example, a positron (the antiparticle of the electron) and an antiproton can form an antihydrogen atom in the same way that an electron and a proton form a normal matter hydrogen atom" Link Here.  Once you mix matter and antimatter, there can be high energy photons!  And further on down the line we get fuel out of it.  Here is the original article

Sean is super into comics.  As in, I didn't have a linen closet for the longest time because it was filled with comics.  He is more into Marvel Comics, but lately with our Smallville obsession he is definitely starting to tolerate DC even more!

This movie is going to be great though.  Ryan Reynolds is a great actor, and he will be a great Hal Jordan.  He even looks like Hal Jordan!!  See picture on Wikipedia here.  I'm really curious whether or not the Flash is going to have a wee cameo.  This is going to be one of those movies we will have to see just because of it's correlation to Smallville. See info about the movie on IMDB.

You know what this post needs to finish it off?  Spaghetti Baby!!



Hope everyone has a great Thursday!

S.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

A Homemade Yule - Part One

Yesterday morning, I woke up to snow.  Unexpectedly.  It was a jar to my system, I tell you.  I love snow, I just wasn't ready for it.  However, it did get me thinking about Yule again.  It's not so far away, and I don't have much time to make our gifts.

Just like most people in this slowly recovering economy, we are broke.  BA-roke.  With a capital B.  Polls done by retailers show that this year, more people want to pay down debt and save money instead of buying more gifts.  Article Here.

Enter: The Homemade Yule.  Or Christmas.  Whatever holiday you observe.  Making things by hand has a number of advantages, a few of those being:

1.  People are usually impressed that you made something yourself.  I'm always surprised by this, because it really isn't hard to make something yourself.  Not everything can be bought at a big box store.

2.  The person you are giving the gift to will be touched that you put that much time and effort into something just for them.

3.  It's inexpensive.

So, this year, I am making most of the presents we are giving to people.  You have to start early, because it takes a while!  I made a scarf (see picture) for my friend's newborn son.  It's tiny, so it won't overwhelm.  It is also big enough to fit my one year old, so they can use it next winter as well.  The best gifts are the ones that can keep being used.  And I love to crochet.

Unfortunately, this scarf was made during the dark days of no SD cards.  So I have no pictures of the process. 

I'm also going to be giving things that I bake myself.  Muffins, cookies.  My peanut brittle.  I will have to buy a couple of things, like for my brother who is 15.  What do you make for 15 year old that they'll want?! Part of the reason we are doing this is selfish, I'll admit it.  We want to save what money we do have for gifts to spend on Brianna.  Like she needs more toys.  It's her first Yule where she will be aware of it though, and she did such a good job ripping open the gifts at her birthday!!!

Beyond the frugality, however, there is really a deeper meaning behind a homemade Yule.  Certainly our ancestors never had Toy's R Us or Walmart to go to for shopping.  Our ancestors gave of their time and skills, and of things they made themselves.  We live in such a way that not many people have the skills to do this, and those that do STILL buy gifts because it's "expected".  I'm guilty of this as well.  How excited our ancestors would have been to see something store bought!  If you've ever read the Little House books, you know what I'm talking about.  How excited Laura and her sister are to get a couple of sticks of candy, a little cake their mother made, and a single penny.

A great gift idea would be to buy some wick and a sheet of beeswax from your local craft store.  Make a candle for someone on your Yule list!  Not only would it be inexpensive and you would make it yourself, but it would really symbolize the holiday.   Clothes are a traditional gift for Yule in Iceland.  You could make a set of divination tools for someone, or maybe some bath salts like these found at about.com to use in a bath before a Ritual.  You could make incense, as on this website from mother and daughter witches, Cassandra and Miranda.

Next week, I'll post about homemade Yule decorations.  There is no reason that a homemade Yule should be limited to gift giving!

Goddess Bless,

S.

Update: Here is a link to A Homemade Yule - Part Two

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Blood Test Results

Well, I spent a lot of time thinking about whether or not to write this post.  Did I really want this information "out there"?  I decided yes, if I can put it out there and help someone else with the same sort of issues, then it's worth it.

I had blood drawn about a month ago, and was called in to get the results.  I had that appointment last night, and wasn't really expecting what my doctor told me.  The reason I went for the blood tests is because my cycle wasn't at all regular, I could go 6 months without getting it and then bleed for 2 months straight.  Well, the doctor told me that I have PCOS, or Polycystic Ovary Syndrome.  Click Here for a link to the Wiki page explaining it, it's way to long to get into it all here.  The just of it, however, is that PCOS and my weight are the two things that are causing 90% of the problems I have.   I have a lot of the the symptoms.  So, what's really going on and what's being done about it?

I have low blood count and my red blood cells are smaller than normal, so I'm now on an iron supplement.  I have high androgenic hormones (in English, that's essentially testosterone.) because of the PCOS, which I'm on birth control for.  And the big one, my body is becoming resistant to insulin, so I've been put on Metformin,  which is usually prescribed to diabetics.  And oh, what was that?  I should lose at least 40 lbs.

So Sean and I had a long talk.  I reluctantly informed him that we were all probably going to have to eat a lot more green things.  He's a butcher, he likes his meat.  I told him he was really going to have to push me and help me exercise, and stick to this plan (see my previous post) because I'm going to have a hard time of it if I'm eating salad and drinking water and he eats a lot of meat and drinks pop.  After I tell him this, he is silent.  And still silent.  Finally, I start to get worried.  When I asked him what he's thinking, he asks if I really thought he would put eating meat over his wife's health.  And that was it, I started to cry.  Sean is a caring guy, but he doesn't really articulate it very often.  Of course, given the above I could just blame it all on hormones.  We talked about having faith, and how no matter what we know that the Goddess will be there for us through this journey, and She will help is where we need it.  I'm usually the one telling Sean to have faith, and he threw it right back at me!  That's why I love him.  So, we will do what we can, and have faith.  The Goddess will get us through. 

I'll keep updating as updates come.  If anyone out there has any personal experience with any of this and wants to share, let me know!  As always, comments are always welcome.

S.

*update* I actually  just weighed myself, and since starting the WW plan last week I've lost 7 lbs!  

Monday, November 15, 2010

It's getting to be that time of year.

You know what I mean.  It's almost Thanksgiving in the U.S., and everywhere is coming up on the Yule/Christmas season.  And you know what happens at this time of year.  You have to buy something.  Something that you've lost over the past year, because you only use it once or twice a year.

Know what I'm talking about?  No, because I'm being ridiculously ambiguous.  I'm funny that way.

Poultry Seasoning.  (DA-DA-DUM)

Yes.  That's right.  We only use it a couple times a year, and then it sadly gets relegated to the back of the spice cupboard, never to be seen again.  Or at least, never to be seen until 2 days after you bought a new jar.  I remember helping my friend pack up to move once, we found three (3!) jars in her spice cupboard.  So here it is, a list of 15 things to do with all that poultry seasoning.  First, though, what is poultry seasoning?  If we know what it is made of, can we use it in more places?  Yes.  Every brand will be different, you will have to check your own bottle.  My favorite calls for marjoram, savory, thyme, black pepper and sage.  All the mixes are fairly similar, so no worries if yours has a few more or less ingredients.


1.  Add to your Saturday morning hash browns.   

2.  Make stuffing.  Not just Thanksgiving or Holiday turkey, though.  Make stuffing for stuffed chicken breasts, stuffed pork chops, or on top of a casserole any night of the year!

3.  Barbecue Chicken.  Yes, that's right.  Marinate chicken in a mixture of beer, vinegar, black pepper, salt, and poultry seasoning.  Refrigerate overnight.

4.  Mix with rice that has been cooked with chicken broth instead of water.  Makes rice taste like roast chicken!

5.  Add a teaspoon to meatloaf.  It gives it an interesting (but good!) flavor.

6.  Add a teaspoon or two to your next pot of chicken noodle soup.  It gives it a wonderful flavor, it sort of sticks to the noodles.

7.  If you make your own spice rub for pork, add about 1/2 a teaspoon of poultry seasoning.  It gives a great flavor to pork.

8.  Turkey or chicken stew.  I love my chicken stew.

9.  While this one is sort of the same as number one, it's a different take.  For your next anniversary or at home date night, roast some Cornish game hens.  Just do it the same way you would a regular bird, just less time.  It tastes wonderful with a rice stuffing as well.  (Perhaps the rice from #4?  Hmmm...)

10.  Add some to cornbread,  especially if said cornbread is going to be served with fried chicken and gravy.

11.  Make your own sausage patties.  Find a great recipe here!

12.  A teaspoon tastes great in pumpkin soup.

13.  Three Words.  Chicken.  Pot.  Pie.

14.  Cheese-Beer Bread.  Need I say more?  Recipe here., and instructions for making your own self-rising flour on About.com.

15.  Anytime you make fried chicken, chicken fingers, etc., add some poultry seasoning to your flour for breading.  A great mix is pepper, poultry seasoning, dill and onion powder.

And there you have it.  15 things to do with that poultry seasoning, other than roasting a turkey!  Hope it works well for you.  If you have any suggestions, feel free to comment them!

S.

*NOTE*  I have not personally tried the recipes I've linked here today.  They are, however, on my list of recipes to try!  It's a very long list.  I'll get there eventually.

*ANOTHER NOTE*  Sorry about the lack of pictures.  The SD card I got yesterday from my wonderfully generous friend Tiff didn't fit in my camera.  Hopefully tonight I'll be able to go get another one.





Sunday, November 14, 2010

I had a really great post for today.

I really did.  I made these fabulous Mustard Crusted Pork chops last night.  They were so good!  They would be fabulous for a spring Sabbat meal.  And I made some awesome veggies to go with it, a mess of fried onions and mushrooms, and a red and green bell pepper.  I took pictures to post.  I took pictures of the whole dang process, instead of forgetting to take pictures until we were just about to eat.  I really did!

Then my SD card died.  It died a horrible, strangled death.  None of my pictures "worked".  All it would tell me was no image available.  I lost about 40 pictures, some of supper last night but a lot of Brianna!

So, I will be posting my wonderful pork chop recipe another time.  When I can take pictures.  It's okay though, I'm picking up a new SD card from a friend tonight.

In the meantime, I'm working on a great, sort of holiday themed post for tomorrow.  Well, I guess you could say it's holiday themed.  You will just have to come back and see!

And I promise, I really will post the recipe next time I make it!

S.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

World Kindness Day


Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.  ~Plato



Today, the 13th of November, is World Kindness day.  Today is a day to remember that we are all human.  We all have feelings, and we all want to be shown kindness.  We all need kindness, and we all need to show kindness.  It could be as simple as telling your husband you appreciate his doing the dishes (I'm lucky, I know) or as extensive as giving some baking to someone who is sick.  You often hear that when a new neighbor moves in, it's nice to welcome them to the neighborhood with a casserole or some baked goods.  Does anyone actually do this anymore?  I'm not aware of it ever happening to anyone in my life.  Why is this?  It's because we are losing our village mentality.  Everyone knows the saying, "It takes a village", but who practices this?  I think we have really lost something over the years because our family units have become a separate, private entity.   

 To me, a village means everyone looking out for everyone, and helping achieve wants and needs.  As an example, when I in elementary school,
Mystic the Unicorn
the big thing was Beanie Babies.  Every time our family went to the mall, I would go to a certain store and look at the Beanie Babies.  We couldn't afford any, and I knew that.  Every time I got my allowance I would save it, every penny I had I would save to be able to buy a Beanie Baby.  The unicorn with the shiny horn.  Finally, I thought I had enough.  I took all my money to the store to buy Mystic the Unicorn.  I grabbed it and took it up to the counter, and gave the sales person my money.  She said I didn't have enough.  I took back my money and started to leave the store.  Then this woman came up.  I had no idea who she was, and  dropped a whole bunch of change into my hands!  I counted it, and it was more than 15 dollars!  Needless to say, I went home with Mystic that day.  I still have it.  I've never forgotten the kindness of that woman, and I wish that I had known enough to say thank you.  She took the initiative to care for someone she didn't really know.  I've always hoped that someday I'll be in the  can do the same for someone. 



Personally, I find it very important to have that village.  People that you can count on, and know that they can count on you.  We have our small circle of family and friends that we consider our village.  Today, the whole world is our village.  Sometimes we feel like we don't have enough time for our own families, let alone anyone else.  So what can we do?  Buy some Halls for a sick co-worker.  Bring home a coffee or hot chocolate for your spouse.  Offer to drive a friend with no transportation to an appointment.  Tell someone you love thank you, simply for being there for you.  


Or, for those who are simply addicted to technology, send an e-card!  I was also made aware of this website recently, www.freerice.com.  It's a great website, where you answer questions about vocabulary, art, geography, or a lot of other options.  For each question you get right, you "donate" grains of rice through the World Food Programme.  Also, here is a link to a webpage telling a little bit more about World Kindness Day.    


I hope everyone has a wonderful day!  


KINDEST regards, 


S.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Family Holiday Cookies

It's coming up on the holiday season, at least here in Canada.  No matter which holidays you celebrate, chances are you have a cookie tradition.  Gingersnaps, Scotch Shortbread, Candy Cane cookies.  As one of those people who plan things WAY ahead of time, I was already thinking about what to do for Yule this year.  This will be our second Yule with Brianna, and our first one where she will sort of know what is going on.  Well, she will at least be able to pick up on the excitement.

This thought bounced around for a while, and I realized we don't have any holiday cookie recipe we can call our own.  One that is ours, not our family's.  Not that there is anything wrong with the cookies I grew up with.  I just really wanted a cookie I could say was OUR tradition.

So I made a very tiny batch of shortbread cookies.  A quarter of the recipe.  Just to experiment with, mind you.  Then I added some Vanilla.  And then some spices.

These cookies smell amazing, it is a deliciously spicy and smooth scent all at the same time.  The taste is just slightly sharp, with a hint of the creamy softness of Vanilla.  I'm so in love with these cookies.  Just because they are so fabulous, I feel I cannot be selfish.  I have to share the recipe.  After all, that is what the holiday spirit is all about right?  Right. 

Spicy Yule Shortbread

















3 1/2 Cups Flour
1 Cup Icing Sugar (powdered sugar)
1 Brick (2 cups) Butter, Softened

1 Tsp Vanilla
1 Tsp Nutmeg
1/4 - 1/2 Tsp Ginger (or as you like)

Cream your butter and sugar together.  Add vanilla, nutmeg and ginger.  Stir.  Add the flour one cup at a time until you have a dough that is stiff enough to be rolled out.  Gather into a ball.  On  a lightly floured surface, roll to about a 1/4 inch thick.  Cut out as desired.  Place on a greased baking sheet.  Bake at 350 for 8 to 10 minutes or until golden brown.   


I personally find that Ginger can be really overpowering, and I didn't want the nutmeg to be shoved out of the way.  I only put 1/4 tsp of Ginger in mine.   I cannot wait to make these again for Yule!  They are far too rich for Brianna to have a lot, but I will let her have a bit!  I used my new Pentacle Cookie Stamp that I bought from Dragon Moon Gifts.  I'm fairly sure they don't carry it anymore, but it is a great store to check out none the less.  You can also find them at the Willow Grove store.  It is smaller than I thought it would be, but I think the end product turned out really well with the smaller size. 


I'm fairly sure that these will become a Yule staple in our home.  What are your favorite holiday cookies?  Which ones have special memories attached?


Happy baking!


S.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Remembrance Day

First thing on this Remembrance Day, I have to thank all of the wonderful Canadian servicemen and women serving our country.  You are doing something for us that we can never repay.

Second, I have to post a picture of my brother.  He is 15 and in RCAC, or Royal Canadian Army Cadets.  He participated in our town's Remembrance Day ceremony today.  He stood at attention for more than an hour!  It was his first time wearing his new Master Corporal rank dress uniform, he just got promoted a couple months ago.  He is planning on applying to the Royal Military College after he is done high school. 

Remembrance day is supposed to be a day for remembering our fallen, from every conflict we've been involved in.  It makes me sad that more Canadians know about Afghanistan that Vimy Ridge.

Yes, I know that the Afghanistan conflict is in the news almost every day.  This goes further than that.  If I hadn't taken a world history elective in school, I don't think that either of the World Wars would have been mentioned.  I never learned about them in school other than that.  The only reason I did learn so much is because I took a personal interest. 

I want my daughter to be able to learn about these things.  I want the next generation to have a knowledge of it.  How are we supposed to prevent things like this from happening again if we don't learn about them in the first place?  I really think more of an emphasis needs to be put on teaching children about our world history, as bloody as it may be.  They are the leaders of tomorrow, and if we don't teach them about the past, then the past will become the future. 

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Well, I guess I knew it was coming.

What should we call it?  Weight loss?  Dieting? (gasp!)

Nope.  Let's call it being healthy.  As you already know if you have been reading my blog for the last week or so, Brianna and I have been walking on a regular basis.  Now that it is too cold for a walk, I've started doing aerobics while Brianna has her nap.

Today, I started Weight Watchers.  Not the "real" Weight Watchers, who has the money for that?!  Of course, it's a great program.  If I did have the money I would really sign up for it.  Instead, I got lists of what foods are worth which amount of points, bookmarked a points calculator and figured out how many points I was allowed to have.  I did this same thing (WW without the WW) when I wanted to lose some weight for Prom.  That was a very long time ago, and if I could go back and talk to myself I would smack me upside the head for wanting to lose any weight.  But I do remember that it worked, and I lost about 10 lbs.


I'm very much hoping that it works for me this time as well.  I have still got baby weight to lose, I'll admit it.  I wouldn't mind losing about 60 lbs.  I would LOVE to lose 80.  And trust me, I'm not trying to be skinny.  My target weight is between 130 and 145.  But I'll settle for something higher, as long as I'm eating healthier.  It would be really nice to have healthier habits in place before the holidays, and Yule dinner at our house and Christmas dinner at my parent's house and the New Year's murder mystery party with lots of appetizers and wine at my best friend's house.  We can hope, right? 


Right.  Keep telling me that.


S.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

A nice, quiet Tuesday

Which is odd, isn't it?  A quiet Tuesday?  Usually people say these things about Saturday or Sunday.  Sean was home today, that's the beauty of being married to a butcher.  He gets days in the middle of the week off, usually.  He is on a weekend rotation, so we usually get about one weekend a month with him home as well.

Today, however, we went for a walk.  A nice, family walk.  It was so chilly!  We bundled up Brianna in her parka for the first time.  It is so big on her!  Her hands got lost, so we had to roll the cuffs down.  She looked so super cute in it though.

We tossed a blanket over the stroller for most of the walk, because the wind was really biting!  It was a blustery sort of day.  Almost, I would say, a WINDSday.


Brianna and I usually take a walk everyday.  It's usually about a mile, I'm just starting to ease into exercising again.  After quitting smoking and starting to get my food choices back in order, it's just the next natural step.  It was so nice to have Sean come with us today.  It's also nice not to have to run after toys and cups when Brianna flings them out of the stroller. 

So this was our day.  We lazed around home, did 4(four!!) loads of laundry, and went for a walk.  It was an absolutely wonderful day.



Hope everyone else had a great day too!

S.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Dinner TONIGHT



Sorry, those commercials get stuck in my head.

Sean was home early from work today, 3 hours early!!  That gave me leave to play around in the kitchen for supper.  It was exciting.  I never get to do that anymore!  We've just started Brianna on foods with spice, she is getting pretty tired of her usual choices.  So here it is...Thai Chicken Stir Fry!!!  Sort of.  That's what I'm calling it, anyway!

Thai Chicken Stir-Fry


  • 3 chicken breasts, sliced
  • 1 1/2 cups Santa Fe mix Frozen Veggies, thawed
  • 2 cups fresh Mushrooms (or 2 Cans sliced, whichever way you roll.  Today I used canned.)
  • 1 can Water Chestnuts, sliced
  • 2 Tbsp (divided) Thai Spice (from Clubhouse spice mixes)
  • Salt and Pepper, to taste
  • 1 Tsp Chili Powder
  • 1 clove chopped garlic (or 1 Tsp garlic powder)


Saute chicken breast pieces in a small amount of olive oil.  I salted and peppered them, and then added 1 Tbsp of the Thai spice while it was cooking.  Then, add all the vegetables, mushrooms, and water chestnuts.  Stir.  Add salt and pepper if desired.  Add chili powder and garlic.  Stir-fry for about 5-10 minutes, then pour sauce over.

Red Pepper Sauce


  • 2 Tbsp Red Pepper Jelly
  • 1 - 2 tsp Soy Sauce
  • 1/2 tsp Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1 Tbsp Honey
  • 1 Tsp Sesame Seeds


Microwave red pepper jelly and honey in a small bowl for 10 seconds or until slightly runny.  Add remaining ingredients, stir, pour over stir fry!

 This recipe for the sauce was created because I didn't realize that I was out of my normal sauce ingredients handy.  It is surprisingly tangy and absolutely fabulous.  It made just enough to coat everything and give it more flavor, but not enough to be used as a sauce with rice.  We did serve this over rice, and it was SO GOOD.

Best new dinner I've made in a while.  I hope everyone enjoys!

S.

DISCLAIMER::  I cook without measuring.  All spices are approximate!  I have a good eye, though!