Thursday, 31 December 2009

Today’s a Blue Moon, so heres some facts and fun...

I expect there will be a lot of posts today about the Blue Moon. I have always loved looking at the Moon, as does my Littleun and tonight, weather permitting, I’ll be taking Littleun out to star gaze and look for the Blue moon. For those of you who don’t know what a Blue Moon is (and yes I know that’s not many of you!) a BM is when you get two full moons in the same calendar month. This happens every couple of years or so as generally you’d get a new full moon every 29.5 days. For this reason is not possible for February to get two full moons.

The term Blue Moon is believed to have originated in 1883 after the eruption of Krakatoa. The volcano put so much dust in the atmosphere that the Moon actually looked blue in colour. This was so unusual that the term "once in a Blue Moon" was coined. However, Blue Moon was also used in much the same way we use the term "Harvest Moon". There were twelve names for full moons, one for each month, and the name Blue Moon was used in years which had 13 full moons. It referred to the third full moon of the four occurring between an equinox and solstice in that year. A misinterpretation of this led to a Sky and Telescope Magazine "Star Quiz" in July 1943 followed by an article in March 1946 which stated that the second full moon in any calendar month was called a Blue Moon (attributed to the 1937 Maine Farmers' Almanac), and this definition has now become part of the language.

A double Blue Moon can occur 4 or 5 times in a hundred years and those of you living in Australia, New Zealand or the Far East will have this in 2010, January and then March.

Moon Goddesses
Cerridwen is, in Celtic mythology, the keeper of the cauldron of knowledge. She is the giver of wisdom and inspiration, and as such is often associated with the moon and the intuitive process. As a goddess of the Underworld, Cerridwen is often symbolized by a white sow, which represents both her fecundity and fertility and her strength as a mother. She is both the Mother and the Crone; many modern Pagans honour Cerridwen for her close association to the full moon.
Some other moon goddesses are Selene (or Luna), sister to Helios - the sun god. In Greek mythology she is called Artemis a virgin goddess of the moon. She rides her silver chariot across the sky and shoots her arrows of silver moonlight to the earth below. In ancient Egypt the sickle-shaped new moon signified the goddess Isis, the Egyptian goddess of rebirth, and crescent shaped jewellery was believed to protect infants.

Triple Moon
The triple moon is a Goddess symbol representing the Maiden, Mother, and Crone aspects as the waxing, full, and waning moon. The triple moon symbol is associated with feminine mystery, energy and psychic skill, and often adorned jewellery worn by High Priestesses.

Celtic Moon Names
January: Quite Moon

February: Moon of Ice
March: Moon of Winds
April: Growing Moon
May: Bright Moon
June: Moon of Horses
July: Moon of Claiming
August: Dispute Moon
September: Singing Moon
October: Harvest Moon
November: Dark Moon

December: Cold Moon

We’re also doing a bit of baking to make some Moon biscuits for our evening out;

For the biscuits:
100g/4oz Butter/Soft Margarine
100g/4oz Soft brown sugar
1 egg
225/8oz plain flour
1 pinch of salt
1 teaspoon mixed spice

For icing and decorating:
150g/5oz icing sugar
1-2 tablespoons of: hot water
edible silver balls

You will also need:
2 round cookie cutters (1 Large, 1 Small)
a large non-stick baking sheet

1. Preheat the oven to gas mark 5, 190 C (375 F).
2. Grease and flour a large, non-stick baking sheet.
3. In a large mixing bowl, mix the butter and sugar together with a wooden spoon until smooth and creamy.
4. Crack open the egg into a cup, and beat. Add to the mixture of butter and sugar stirring in well.
5. Now sift in the flour, Salt and mixed spice. Mix everything together to form a dough.
6. Sprinkle some flour onto the work surface, and roll out the dough to a thickness of about 5mm. Be careful not to roll too thinly. Use the cookie cutters to press out the sun, moon and star shapes from the dough. To make the moons, cut out small circles with the large round cutter, cut part of the biscuit away to make a crescent moon shape.
7. Place the cookies on the baking sheet and put near the top of the oven. Cook for about 15 minutes or until lightly golden.
8. When the biscuits are ready, remove from the oven wearing oven gloves. Leave to cool on a wire rack.

Recipe from: An Ark full of recipes - Claire Freedman
Other info; David Harper PhD, Dr. David R. Williams, Me!
Photo, Flickr member; Wolverine

Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Maddy Prior

Whilst feeling rubbish I've taken to cheering Littleun and myself up with anything on youtube to do with folk music. The following is probably our favorite so far and it has certainly got me through this evenings work schedule! hope you like it as much as we do.

Monday, 28 December 2009

Still poorly

So please excuse the lack of posts. Will be about as soon as this computer screen stops going blurry!

Saturday, 26 December 2009

We got the dreaded sniffles

And we’ve got some rather sore throats, so I thought I’d make a “Kill or Cure” soup to try and recover some sanity. The following is a recipe for Chilli Soup, from Kate West’s Real Witches Kitchen and is really rather yummy. Just mind you wash your hand after chopping the chillies or your eyes will water for all the wrong reasons as I found out.

Similar to Chilli-con-carne, this helps to clear congestion and drive away colds and flu.

½lb beef mince
2 sliced onions
2 small finely chopped chilli peppers
2 sliced cloves of garlic
1 large sliced red pepper
3tsps paprika powder
1 tin of kidney beans
1 tin of tomatoes (the last of our summer crop, boohoo!)
1 pint of water

Fry the mince and the onions without any added fat until the mince is fully cooked. Add the chilli peppers, garlic and red pepper and cook gently for a further 5 minutes. Add the paprika, kidney beans, tomatoes and water. Bring to the boil and then simmer for 15 minutes. Serve with warm homemade bread.

Friday, 25 December 2009

Yule gifts

Yipee, They have arrived, Whats that you ask? Well the lovely Runes I won from Domestic Witches Giveaway back in November. And I've got to say they are beautiful. Thank you so much!

One of the other lovely gifts I was given was this handmade Pewter Oak cuff. I love it. Now hoping to find the makers so that I can get some other pieces as it is really well made and very beautiful.

Thursday, 24 December 2009

Beltane Clothing

Yes I know we’ve only just passed Yule and here I am posting about Beltane. There is a reason though. Beltane has got to be the Sabbat I feel connected to the most. We have a big festival in a nearby town and we spend the whole weekend celebrating.

With this in mind I have already started on Littleuns clothing and have a gown forming for myself. The materials have been salvaged from old garments, curtains in fact any material I have found. For the parade I am making Littleun a waistcoat which has the Green man on the back and for the opening Ceilidh I’ve found a lovely pixie green jacket from a company based further along the coast. Now I just have to suss out how to make the trousers. Each attempt so far has meant he either will have to walk like he has one leg much shorter than the other or in one case just hop, sack-race style!

Anyway here’s my unfinished attempt, what do you think?

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Allotment Joy!

I’ve finally got around to being on a waiting list for a local allotment, but sadly have just been told there could be as much as a 3 year waiting list! However the kindness of an associate has saved us in the short term. She has allowed us the use of her very large garden, somewhere she never goes apparently, and the small buildings that are on the plot, a shed, old war bunker and a glass house. It’s a right overgrown state but with a lot of hard work, the odd jug or two of warming hot chocolate I think we’ll get there.

It means we will be able to grow enough food for us all year round rather than just the spring summer crops that we’ve had just enough space in the garden for so far. I’m definitely hoping to try and grow cabbages for my favourite dish colcannon and to extend the herb patch.

Littleun planting onions earlier this year

This year is our first where we have tried to eat food that is either grown by us or locally produced, keeping within the seasons. It’s been tricky at times, Littleun can’t quite understand why I won’t buy strawberries at this time of year, but it has definitely been worth it. Littleuns skin problem has almost completely gone since swapping to better food and organic hair products. And I am finishing 2009 29lbs lighter, yippee, only 4ish stone to go!

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Jack And The Beanstalk

We’re off to the Pantomime, to see Jack and The Beanstalk. Though after reading the story you might agree with me when I say we are going to support the Giant and boo at the naughty horrible Jack!

Long time ago in a far away land, lived a poor woman with her only son Jack. They were quite poor. One day the woman found that they had nothing left to eat and no money to buy food. The woman told Jack, who was already feeling hungry to take their cow to the market and sell her.”Make sure you get a good price for her" she added. Jack went to the field and tied a rope around the cow's neck and started walking down the road towards the town.

On his way towards the town Jack found a small old man walking besides him. He was looking at the cow very surprisingly. "That's a nice cow", said the strange man. "Yes she is", said Jack. "I am off to the market to sell her". Listening this, the old man said that "I'll buy her". But Jack refused the man and said that he will first go the market and get the best price he can. I'll give you a good price for her", said the old man. "How much?" asked Jack. "Seven magic beans", said the old man. "No way” said Jack. I'll give you the beans for the cow and life will be different for you, said the old man. "I am sorry my mother will be very unhappy, if I went back home with a handful of beans. I must sell her at the market, "said Jack; "You will not be successful, said the old man "But go if you think you’ll get a better price in the market"

Jack reached the market. The market was very busy and crowded that time so Jack stood in the middle shouting that his cow was for sale, but nobody looked at him or his cow.

At the end of the day everyone started packing up so Jack turned towards the cow and said "come let's go back home". Suddenly the old man appeared in front of him. "You still have the cow and I still have the magic beans", he said. Jack stopped and thought if the beans were magic they may well change things. “Ok I will take all the beans", he said. "Wise choice", said the old man, "and Good luck". "Thank you" replied Jack and headed for home. Now Jack was happy he wanted to thank the old man again so he turned back but there was no one behind.

Jack reached home. He gave the beans to her mother. "Beans!!", shouted his mother. "How will the beans feed us". "They are magic beans mother, "said Jack.” Magic beans, how stupid! Oh you silly boy", said his mother and threw the beans out of the window.

They went to bed without having anything. When Jack woke up the next morning, he saw a very strange thing. A huge green trunk was growing past the window, with enormous leaves. Jack called his mother and shouted, "It's the beans you threw last night". They both looked up and the bean- stalk served to be growing right into the sky, disappearing into the clouds. "I am going to climb it, "said jack.”Oh! No, you don't know where it goes" said his mother.” "I will find out", said jack and he began climbing. Jack climbed so high that he went through the white clouds.

As, the bean- stalk finished a path stretched in front of Jack. At a distance he could see a castle. When he reached the castle, he stood in front of the huge gate and pulled the bell. A large woman came out of the gate. "How did you reach here?" she asked, "come in before my husband arrives". Jack was taken into the kitchen. The table and chair were like mountains to him. "Have some breakfast you must be hungry," said the woman. Jack ate a plate full of food. Loud steps, could be heard suddenly, "That's my husband", said the woman. You must hide or he will eat you". Jack went behind the gate. "Fee, Fo, Fi, Fum, I smell the blood of an English man. Be alive or be he dead, I'll grind his bones to make my bread", shouted the giant as he came into the kitchen. You are imagining things, "said his wife". "There is no English man here". Your breakfast is on the table.

"Jack watched the giant as he ate his breakfast & very often he would stop and sniff and then carry on eating. When he was full, he called his wife, bring my golden hen. The hen was tiny and sat on the table in front of him. "Lay golden hen, said the giant. The hen began to lay eggs and they were golden eggs. Jack was looking all the things from his hiding place. The giant soon began to snore and was fast asleep. Jack jumped and climbed the table, crept past the giant, picked up the hen and ran. He ran fast out of the castle and then down through the bean. His mother was relieved to see him. Soon the hen started laying golden eggs. Jack and the bean stalk became rich. But Jack began to get bored after a while.

One day he said to his mother, " I am going to climb the beanstalk again, "But why?"' She asked "I want to see what else is up there, said Jack and climbed the bean stalk again. This time when he reached the castle, he hid himself in the drawer. After a while he heard loud footsteps ""Fe, Fo, Fi, Fum, I smell the blood of an English man and this time I will find him." "I'll help you said his wife. The naughty boy took your favourite hen. They looked high and low but could not find Jack. “Don't be upset, said the giant's wife, "eat your dinner and have a rest". The giant finished his dinner and called his wife, "Bring my harp it can sing me to sleep”. His wife bought the harp and the giant stroked the string, the harp began to sing by itself. The giant smiled and yawned and soon went to sleep.

As soon as the giant was fast asleep, Jack jumped out of the drawer and grabbed the harp as he had not seen such a beautiful thing before. "Master-Master", shouted the harp "Help me". Jack started running the giant got up and ran after jack. Jack ran as fast as he could and came to the bean- stalk, he climbed down as fast as he could.

“Get me the axe mother" said Jack. His mother took one look up and ran to fetch the axe. When Jack was on the ground, his mother took the harp and handed him the axe. "Whack-Whack" went the axe cutting the bean stalk "Fee, Fo, Fi, Fum", bellowed the giant, suddenly the whole thing began to fall over. The bean-stalk landed with the giant waking in huge hole. The giant tumbled down the hole never to be seen again. Jack and his Mother lived happily forever with the golden hen and the singing harp.

Monday, 21 December 2009

The Light is now returning,

After tonight the Light is starting to return so I thought I'd change my look for something brighter. Not completely happy with it but am working on something else so it'll probably be changed again soon!

Yule, the Holly King v Oak King & other random facts

The dark nights have drawn to their longest point and time has come for the Oak King to triumph over the Holly King. By cutting off the Holly Kings Head, the Oak King rules from Midwinter to Midsummer. The Holly King has represented Death and darkness since Samhain. Yule is bringing our spirits high as we rejoice with the light returning, time to be reborn, new lives beginning. A different version of the Holly v Oak King theme is the ritual hunting and killing of a Wren. The Wren, little King of the Waning Year, is killed by the Robin Redbreast, King of the Waxing Year. The Robin finds the Wren hiding in an Ivy bush (or as in some parts of Ireland - a holly bush).
There is also the tale of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight where you can see similarities to the holly/oak stories. The following is a translated chapter (no.13)
"Never fear," he said, "I'm not fishing for a fightwith the beardless children on the benches all about. If I were strapped on steel on a sturdy horseno man here has might to match me. No, I have come to this court for a bit of Christmas funfitting for Yuletide and New Years with such a fine crowd. Who here in this house thinks he has what it takes,has bold blood and a brash head, and dares to stand his ground, giving stroke for stroke? Here! I shall give him this gilded blade as my gift; this heavy axe shall be his, to handle as he likes. And I shall stand here bare of armour, and brave the first blow. If anyone's tough enough to try out my game, let him come here quickly and claim his weapon! I give up all rights; he will get it for keeps. I'll stand like a tree trunk -- he can strike at me once, if you'll grant me the right to give as good as I getin play. But later is soon enough, a full year and a day. Get up, if you think you're rough, let's sees what you dare to say!"

Our Yule Altar

Yule was not celebrated in early Celtic traditions. It was brought to Britain by the invading Saxons who viewed Yule as the "turning time". Yule literally means "wheel" in Old Norse. Because the symbolism of the wheel was so important to this Sabbat, it became a day sacred to Goddesses of the spinning wheel. Wreaths were a popular representation of the endless cycle…the Wheel of the Year.

Evergreens were sacred to the Celts because they did not "die" thereby representing the eternal aspect of the goddess. Mistletoe represented the seed of the God, and at Midwinter, the Druids are said to have gone deep into the forest to harvest the mistletoe. They cut the mistletoe with a golden sickle and caught it in a white cloth for it was not to touch the ground in deference of its sacredness.

Yule is a solar festival. The Yule log, which is made of oak from the previous year is burned into the fire to symbolize the Newborn Sun/Son. Some of the log is saved and kept throughout the year to protect the home and is thought to bring the home prosperity and good luck throughout the year. That piece is used to light the next year's log. The log was usually cut from the God-related oak tree. Originally, the Yule log was brought into the home amid much dancing and ceremony before being lit in the fireplace.

Our candle representing the new light/Sun

Disjointed though this post is I hope it is of some interest! Have a good Yule.

Saturday, 19 December 2009

Yule Wreaths and Mistletoe

The tradition of hanging evergreens and wreaths on the door as we know has origins in Pagan times. We believe that evergreens have powers, they retain their leaves in winter and have come to symbolise eternal life. Holly, Ivy and Mistletoe are also seen as powerful life symbols as the bear fruits in winter. Hung and exchanged as gifts in order to help ward off unwanted spirits and to bring good fortune with new beginnings.

However although as pagans we hang them for some of these reasons they have also been adopted by the Christians, though originally not without some misgivings. The early Fathers of the Christian Church wear fearful of bringing in the Holly as they thought this would help keep alive the pagan rituals and so for several centuries the use of green boughs as a winter decoration was banned by the church. This attitude continued in parts of America (in particular New England) until as recently as the 19th century.

So as a welcome the wreath is on the door and you move inside to find the mistletoe hanging above you.
Originally a fertility “charm” and still used by herbalists the mistletoe is poisonous if the berries are consumed, so be careful with the Littleuns! In Norse, Balder was a god of vegetation. His mother Frigg, prompted by a prophetic dream, made every plant, animal and inanimate object promise not to harm him. But Frigg overlooked the mistletoe plant — and the mischievous god Loki took advantage of this oversight, tricking the blind god Höður into killing Balder with a spear fashioned from mistletoe. Balder's death brought winter into the world, until the gods restored him to life. Frigg declared the mistletoe sacred, ordering that from now on it should bring love rather than death into the world. Happily complying with Frigg's wishes, any two people passing under the plant from now on would celebrate Balder's resurrection by kissing under the mistletoe.

"The Passing of Balder"

I heard a voice, that cried,
"Balder the Beautiful
is dead, is dead"
And through the misty air
Passed the mounful cry
Of sunward-sailing cranes.
I saw the pallid corpse
Of the dead sun
Bourne through the Northern sky.
Blasts from Nifel-heim
Lifted from the sheeted mists
Around hin as he passed.

And the voice for ever cried,
"Balder the beautiful
Is dead, is dead"
And died away
Through the dreary night,
In accents of despair.

Balder the Beautiful,
God of the summer sun,
Fairest of all the Gods!
Light from his forehead beamed,
Runes were upon his tongue,
As on the warrior's sword.

All things in the earth and the air
Bound were by magic spell
Never to do him harm,
Even the plants and stones:
All save the mistletoe,
The sacred mistletoe!

Höður, the blind old god,
Whose feet are shod with silence,
Pierced through that gentle breast
With his sharp spear, by fraud
Made of the mistletoe,
The accursed mistletoe!

They laid hi in his ship,
With horse and harness,
As on a funeral pyre.
Odin placed
A ring upon his finger,
And whispered in his ear.

They launched the burning ship!
It floated far away
Over the misty sea,
Till like the sun it seemed,
Sinking beneath the waves.
Balder returned no more!

Photos are of the wreaths we made for our homes, top one mums, bottom one Littleuns and mine.

Thursday, 17 December 2009

Brr, its cold...

Its turned rather chilly here and even though we have new double-glazed windows the house doesn't seem to be retaining any heat. Could have something to do with the lack of floorboards though.
In one way I'm hoping that the snow settles, it'll be fun to take the littleun out on the sledge. But in another I hope it doesn't. My sister has to travel from one town to the next 17 miles away each day on a rather dodgy road and I worry for her safety.
It also makes me think of those less fortunate than myself, those who are suffering the cold streets tonight. The nearby Salvation Army are very good but I'm not sure that there are many overnight shelters left in this town. I wish I could do a bit more than the clothing/blanket donations I do do but it is hard to give up time as well as being a single working mum. As we head for the longest night with what appears to be the coldest forecast for a while I'll be giving thanks for my families safety and endeavour to do more to help others.....

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

What Path am I on?

For a long while now I have been reading and researching anything I could get my hands on. My ancestry is Irish so I was naturally drawn to the Celtic Path but thought it best to read about as many as I possibly could. One thing I have come to the conclusion of is that I am a solidarity pagan. It’s not that I don’t like others or want to hide away but more that in the area I live in most are solidarity and there isn’t a group or Coven nearby. Friends get together and we will at certain times take turns at our feasts/celebrations to lead any rituals but in general I go it alone. Plus at certain times of the wheel the locals go for it with massive celebrations, particularly at Beltane and Lammas/Lughnasadh and Littleun and I definitely join in with these.

I have read over the years about most faiths and beliefs, often drawn to the Egyptian pantheon and on occasion the Greek, but still can’t settle on one path. I know that this is the life I want and that like most things if it is worth doing then you will no doubt get tested but I feel a little frustrated that I still can’t seem to see clearly. I often feel lost, but then something will make me smile and seem to nudge me the right way forwards and more often than not it’s something involving Cernunnos / Green Man. Will I ever know the answers or is the nature of my Path to always be questioning?...

Monday, 14 December 2009

Dried orange decorations

We are really getting into making our own decorations this year and have made quite a varied bunch. The latest is our Orange dec’s.

To make these you will need:
Several Oranges
Cinnamon Sticks
Crab Apples
Garden Twine or Pretty Strings
Large strong needle or small skewer

Choose large firm oranges. Slice thinly, and arrange on a baking tray trying not to overlap (they stick together otherwise). Set the cooker on the lowest heat and leave to dry out, checking every hour to begin with. The idea is to let them 'cook' long enough to dry out completely, but not to burn. If they do not dry entirely they may not keep for long and go mouldy. If dried properly they can be kept after Yule in an airtight container for months. For the small whole oranges we used a smaller variety and cut slits into the skin through to the flesh and repeated above cooker process. For the apples I used small crab apples from the garden harvest, leaving them whole repeat the above cooker process but you don’t need to do it for quite so long.

When you have sufficiently dried the fruit you then will need a heavy duty needle or small skewer. Starting with the cinnamon tie some sticks together with the twine. In the middle of your orange slice or whole fruit pierce a hole, thread through the twine and tie knots either side. Keep stacking this way until you are happy with the length of your decoration. Loop the top of the twine to make a hanging holder part and then hang on the tree or around your house.

To keep the fragrance you can occasionally top up the smell with some orange oil.

Saturday, 12 December 2009

Yule Tree Hunting

Today is the Day. We have been to find our tree, the perfect one that Littleun loves. We use a local farm who are constantly replanting and also donate funds to the forestry commission to help maintain and increase the natural wood habitats in the UK.

So with ourselves wrapped up (it’s turned rather chilly) we headed off. As we get there we notice a building at the end that has some reindeer resting inside. Littleun is now very excited and kept looking in corners and at the roof. Not quite being awake yet I couldn’t work out what he was doing till he said, rather impatiently, “I’m looking for Father Christmas, Silly Mummy” Obviously!

It took us at least half hour of deep contemplation before he settled on one he liked. Giving it a hug he then wouldn’t let go and yes he did complain it was scratchy. I had to bribe him with biscuits before we could safely retreat and let the wood-chopper do his job! We then trundled off in the woods to find some cones so that we could make some decorations like those in Broom Closet Confessions. Going to have some jolly music on and get the glue gun out in a bit. Ttfn....

Friday, 11 December 2009

Ice Skating Littleun style

Our town has put in a small real- Ice rink for the winter season and it’s quite funny to have a go. I used to love skating when I was younger.

My sister and I used to go along to the permanent rink which was dark, cold and wet but full of fun as we had been banned by our mum so it was like a forbidden treasure. That was till we got caught. The hard way as kids tend too. My sister had fallen over and got a really nasty cut on her face that required hospital treatment so I had to own up. Cue one angry mum.

Since then I haven’t ever been back to a rink. I thought it would be easy, just pick up where I’d left off all those years ago. Didn’t factor in that I am now much older and as adults we tend to fall harder and more painfully than as kids! Littleun hadn’t been before so he was a bit nervous but soon picked it up as he was holding onto his skating penguin which acted as a support and guide. Picked it up so well that the cute chaperone penguin turned into his weapon of choice, bombing around the rink he would giggle like mad as he snuck up behind me making Pingu type noises and knocking out my ankles. I now look as though I’ve gone a few rounds in a heavyweight match. Bruised all over. But it was fun and at only £5 relatively cheap. So glutton for punishment that I am I’ve promised to take him back. If my posts stop for a while imagine me lying crook with busted legs and arms and know that the dastardly penguin won!

Thursday, 10 December 2009

Yule Survey – Tagging!

Ok, so Rayden over at Rayden Rants has tagged me in a Yule Survey. This is the first one I’ve joined in with and its a good laugh. So here goes.

1 Have you started Yule shopping yet?
I don’t tend to buy too much we try and make a lot of our gifts but those do buy then yep, headed over to Bath for the German style market last week. Got a few nice goodies there then.
2 Tell me about one of your special holiday traditions
Ooh, it used to be the “Open House” I’d let any friends who were without a place come over and it was initially for the night but somehow they ended up staying for a days. Sadly not done it for a while as the house is not a good place right now but next year who knows, might be able to resume that one.
3 When do you put up your tree?
We are getting it tomorrow so it will be decorated this weekend.
4 Are you a black Friday shopper?
Ok, I’m English, Whats black Friday?...
5 Do you travel at Yule or stay at home?
Normally stay at home with friends, this year will be out and about with the locals doing a bit of singing.
6 What is your funniest Yule memory?
One year some of the friends wanted to play a game of charades. It’s not normally my sort of thing but we decided to give it a go. For ages one team kept winning and we couldn't figure out how they were so good. It was only at the end that one of them happened to mention that their parents were deaf so they had learnt and been using sign language to cheat!
7 What is your favourite Yule movie?
Ok it’s a toss up between “Love Actually”, “Muppets Christmas Carol” and “The Nightmare before Christmas”
8 Do you do any Yule baking and which is your favourite treat?
Um yes, never stop. Always got something going in the oven. I love the smells, having Littleun laughing as he spreads the flour and mixtures everywhere, seeing folks faces as they munch through it all, generally enjoying ourselves in the heart of our home.
9 Real or fake tree?
Was fake for so very long but changed a few years back when the fake one “died”.
10 What day does the actual panic set in to get it all done?
Panic? What Panic, hick, pass the bottle again.......
11 Are you still wrapping presents on Yule eve?
Its not a case of still, but more that thats when we always do it. Littleun and I sit down together and wrap our family and friends as part of the build up. I do his when he has finally trundled off to bed. If we do it too early in the weeks leading up he gets very excited and is a bugbear to deal with.
12 What is your favorite family fun time at Yule?
Making paperchains, tree decorations, cooking food, watching the sunrise, more cooking, meeting our family, having a tipple or two, getting some peaceful time for contemplation and thanks. Do I have to really choose just one?
13 What Yule craft do you like best?
Oh blimey, haven’t you noticed I can’t choose just one thing! Um, lets see, er, ah, um nope can’t do it, I like them all. Oh ok, maybe just maybe its making mincepies.
14 Yule music, Yes or No and if yes what is your favourite peice?
Definitely! Got to get into the mood and this helps. I drive my mum potty singing it all. Actually thinking about that it might be because I’m tone deaf. Favorite, well at the moment its Jingle Bells, but thats because its the first one Littleun has learnt all the way through this year.
15 Do you plan to do finish all your shopping?
No never do, always forget something, normally the matches.....

And in my turn to tag I’m going to choose:


Ok its roll-call time! On my wanderings I've noticed that some of you knid folk have been sporting my button and I haven't got yours. So if you would like me to add your button please can you leave a comment with your blog address and I'll trundle over later and get it.
Ta muchly.

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

The Childs' Wonder

Found this poem whilst wandering the net, made me smile so I thought I’d share. The author is listed as unknown, if anyone knows who it is I’ll gladly credit.

The Childs' Wonder

"Daddy", she said, her eyes full of tears,
"will you talk to me and quiet my fears?
Those bad boys at school are spreading a lie
'bout the impossibility of reindeer that fly.
There's no Santa Claus, they say with a grin
there's not one now and there has never been.

How can one man take all of those toys
to thousands of girls and boys?
But I told them Daddy, that they were not right,
that I would come home and find out tonight.
Mama said wait until you come home.
Please tell me now that I was not wrong."

Her Daddy looked at her questioning face
and puffed his pipe while his frantic mind raced.
He had put this off as long as he could,
he had to think fast and it better be good.
Whispering a prayer, he began with a smile,

"Remember at circle how we learned to pray,
asking the Goddess to take care of us each day?
And you know how we say a prayer before each meal?
To this same Goddess whom we know to be real.
Though we never see her, we know she is there
watching her children with such loving care."

"The Goddess started Yule a long time ago
when she gave us herself to love and to know.
A spirit of giving came with that gift,
and her generosity filled the whole earth.
Man had to name this spirit of giving
just as he names all things that are living."

"The name Santa Claus came to someone's mind
probably the best name of any to find.
There is, you can see, and I think quite clear
Truly a Santa who visits each year.
A spirit like the Goddess, whom we never see,
She enters the hearts of your mother and me."

"Each year at Yule for one special night
we become him and make everything right.
But the REAL spirit of Yule is in you and in me
and I hope that you are old enough now to see
that as we believe and continue to give,
our friend Santa Claus will continue to live."
~Author Unknown~

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Rothenburg Schneeballen (Snowballs)

So Domestic Witch has again come up with a fun thing for us to join in with, Balls! The rules are simple, has to be a ball, has to be edible. So here is my contribution, The Rothenburg Schneeballen. A lovely pastry dish made famous in this town. You can get it plain, covered in chocolate or pretty much any topping you like. I visited Rothenburg years ago and have been trying to get back there ever since. It’s a beautiful town and well worth a visit with lots to see and do but the best bit is sitting on the wall watching the world go by as your breath is freezing in front of you and you get to warm up with a mug of Glühwein and a Schneeballen.

1 c all-purpose flour, minus 1 tbsp

2 tbsp sugar
2-3 tbsp butter
2 egg yolks
Dash of dark rum
Sauterne or white wine

Combine all ingredients. Mix with hands. Add rum and wine to make dough. Knead about 15 to 10 minutes, adding flour from board as necessary, until dough feels like velvet; cover and let rest in refrigerator at least 1 hour. Roll out thin on floured board and cut into squares. String on the handle end of a wooden spoon, and carefully place in preheated deep-fryer. Fry until golden. Drain on brown paper bag. Roll in cinnamon sugar mixture of confectioners sugar.

They have a special strainer type tool to help keep the shape but I found it impossible to get one so I use a round tea infuser/strainer instead, seems to work ok.

I did want to cheat and do a typical cocktail drink that my friend loves but I couldn’t do anything about it staying “round” as per the rules. However my sister said “but you could serve it in a round glass” so after consideration I’ve added that recipe too. Think I might be getting a little tipsy this winter...

Snowball cocktail

2 oz Advocaat
Top up Lemonade
1/2 oz Fresh Lime juice

Mix all ingredients in a cocktail shaker / stirrer and pour into an unusually shaped glass. Add Crushed Ice and decorations to create a great Christmas drink from an easy to make recipe!

Schneeballen Recipe from BJGourmet
Photos top: flickr member; danielperscke, bottom flickr member; jcitcy

Monday, 7 December 2009

Decorating update

As you may know I have been getting to the last stages of finishing my victorian home. This week the paint went up, I'd been eagerly waiting for it as I knew that this would really shape the room. Colours were carefully choosen, many hours of thought given to it. The day arives and I come back almost bursting with excitement when I stop in my tracks. Its horrible, I hate it, how can something that looks so good on the paint charts look so bad on the walls?!? So back to the drawing board............

Saturday, 5 December 2009

Saint Nicholas, Sinterklaas, Santa Claus

We know that our Pagan customs have been adopted and changed to suit the needs of other religions and beliefs over the years and this got me wondering to what else has been adapted and changed for this time of year.

When I went to Brugge last month I saw many items to do with a character called Sinterklaas and his helper Père Fouettard. Not really knowing the original story, only the basic one my mother used to tell each Christmas, I thought I’d look it up.

Whichever you may call him he originates from the same story of a man called Nicholas of Myra. The patron saint of Pawn Brokers. This story is Catholic but many children believe in him regardless of their family faiths. The main custom is to put out a slipper the night before and if they have been good they would receive a gift of sweets or a few coins. But the scarier side of the story, the bit my mum forgot to mention, was what happened if you had been naughty. I remember her telling me that I had to be good or Father Christmas wouldn’t visit but she didn’t say about Père Fouettard and his punishments. In accordance with tradition the Catholics have made it a rather harsh thing to be naughty. The simplest punishment would be that you’d get a rod for discipline in your slipper; the worst, tied up in his sack, taken to a forest and beaten! When we were in Brugge we asked a gentleman the reason for the coloured helper and strangely he didn’t know nor did anyone else we asked. Can kind of work out why now! Most countries have dropped Père Fouettard from the story; they don’t like the racist implications which I understand however a few have changed the origin of Père to that of a chimney sweep hence the delivery of the gifts via a chimney. The hay or carrots left out were originally for a horse though latterly he has changed to the deer and Father Christmas’ red clothing comes from the fact that St Nicholas was a bishop whose robes were red. The date has also changed for Father Christmas, he now visits America, the UK and some other countries on the 24th December, tying him to the Christmas celebrations but St Nicholas’ day is actually 6th December so the shoes would be left out on the 5th. So for those of you who put out stockings you've now got an idea where it comes from, so don’t be naughty!

Thursday, 3 December 2009

Yule pot pourri

I’ve been trying to find a scent that will over-power the smell of emulsion paint and bring the spirit of Yule into my home. I found the following idea on and gave it a go, it smells absolutely lovely.

Keep it in a jar so it will stay fresh. To use, simply scoop ½ of mix into a small pot, and cover with a few inches of water. Allow to simmer on low heat on your stovetop, adding water as the potpourri reduces down. You can also use a small potpourri-sized crock pot.

Blend together:
· 3 Cups dried orange peel
· 1 Cup dried lemon zest
· 4 Cinnamon sticks, snapped into thirds
· 1/4 Cup whole cloves
· 1/4 Cup pine needles
· A pinch of allspice
· 10 juniper berries
Mix in a bowl and then keep in a jar until you're ready to use.

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Dealing with Christmas commercialism and the Littleun.

I was hoping to get through another year without the commercial addictiveness of “I Want I want” happening but sadly no, it’s here in its radiant tinsel glory. The Littleun who up till now has been happy being slightly different from every other kid in his life has decided that from now on it must all be Christmas. And not the religious Christmas but the Coca-cola one. You know the one with the bright lights, grab for myself attitude and darn the rest.

I’ve been trying to accommodate the nurseries desire to decorate everything with Santa and Jesus and the fact that they are teaching him Christmas songs without explaining the background whilst I at the same time am telling him about Yule and the other celebrations that happen in the Winter months. But I seem to be on losing ground at the moment.

I’m all for him learning about the differences, the way different cultures are but I’m not happy to hear the predominant chant of “why can’t I have it” and “I want it now, so-n-so is getting one”. He gets quite a few gifts this time of year from my family and friends as well as a few things from his dad and me, so why is it that a normally reasonable and somewhat grateful child has turned into a complete monster by all this commercial activity?

To see grown adults a month away from the celebration, fighting over toys and gifts demanding perfection above and beyond the capability of shop assistants, is so sad. Parents are worrying over the cost and not understanding the joy of making things with your children saying that “the kids won’t want that”.
The spirit of Winter celebrations and Christmas have been lost in this here old town and I would like it, and my normal kid, back! Grr, rant over. Off for a walk in the woods. Hoping to find a nice small branch or log that I can decorate for our Yule altar...

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Quick Hello

This is just a quick hello to all you lovely folk who have decided that my ramblings might just occasionally be worth reading. Will be back soon but have to turn the electricity off as I've got the sparky coming to fix my new circuits, yay! The house is slowly getting there, did have a bit of a problem recently after pulling the paper down to find a damp wall but still must not grumble as I can see the light at the end of it all, ttfn.....

Sunday, 29 November 2009

Festive fun: Homemade Mince-meat

Well hello to you all who have travelled over from Domestic Witch. This is the first time I’ve joined in with anything like this so please accept the slightly rough edges I may have! Just in case you’re interested I thought I’d introduce myself a little.
My name is Jen and I’m a single(ish) mum of a 4year old Littleun. Together we have fun trying to live a Pagan life doing the most we can for our little bit towards looking after the Earth and without interfering much in others lives. We can often be found wandering the hills, woods and beaches surrounding our little town. I’m a firm believer in eating good organic food and we have made a start towards this by growing our own and trying to cook most things from scratch, if this means I get to try a little homemade wine or treats on the way all the better! Which brings me to my homemade gift, Mincemeat.

To make our version of this you’ll need the following:
Makes approx 4-5lbs
½lb / 225g cooking apples
½lb / 225g currants
½lb / 225g stoned raisins
½lb / 225g sultanas
4oz / 115g glace cherries
4oz / 115g chopped mixed peel
4oz / 115g shelled walnuts
8oz / 225g shredded suet or vegetarian version
1lb / 450g Demerara sugar
2 level tsp mixed spice
3-4 fl oz brandy or rum or your favourite tipple, though avoid cream liquors

Peel core and chop the apples. Clean and mince the dried fruits. Mix in a large bowl with the nuts and the apples. Blend in the suet, sugar and spice. Add enough brandy or rum to give a moist mixture. Cover the bowl with a cloth and leave for 48 hours to allow the fruit to swell. Stir well and put the mincemeat into sterilized jars, seal and cover as for jam. Leave for 3-4 weeks to mature.

Random mincemeat facts:

Mincemeat pie is thought to originally be based upon an ancient Pagan tradition of serving coffin-shapped cakes representing Osiris, the ritual taking place at the winter solstice and later co-opted by the Christians. The pies in mediaeval times were larger and baked open but after time a crust was added with an effigy of the infant Jesus as a representation of him in his cradle, known as a crib cake.

Mincemeat was once made with meats such as partridge, pigeon, hare, rabbits or beef as well as the fruit, sugars, spices and alcohol.

A recipe from a cookbook form the mid 16thc called “ A proper newe booke of cokerye” shows a pie very similar to our modern pie.

Oliver Cromwell, the self-proclaimed Lord Protector of England from 1649 until 1658, detested Christmas as a pagan holiday. Oliver Cromwell's Puritan Council abolished Christmas on December 22, 1657. In London, soldiers were ordered to go round the streets and take, by force if necessary, food being cooked for a Christmas celebration. The smell of a goose being cooked could bring trouble. Cromwell considered pies as a guilty, forbidden pleasure. The traditional mincemeat pie was banned. King Charles II restored Christmas when he ascended the throne in 1660.

More than 3,000 metric tonnes of Robertson’s mincemeat is sold in the run-up to the 25th.

The government of Pitt the Younger formed on 18th December 1783 was satirically dubbed the mince-pie administration as it was widely believed that it wouldn’t last till Christmas.

Now don’t forget to stuff yourself silly! Hope you liked my ramblings and do feel free to travel back to visit and comment whenever you fancy. Good Yule and Seasons Greetings to you all.

Thursday, 26 November 2009

Stonehenge & Bath

Have gone away for a few days whilst my lovely decorator has moved in. We have headed over to Bath via Stonehenge and Avebury to explore the Baths, Museums and of course Henges. More to follow on our return.

Have a good week all.

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

New Layout

I finally worked out how to do a new layout for the blog. It's not very adventurous but its a begining. Now just got to work out how to write words in the text that when you click on them link you to another site or item. Anyway let me know what you think of the new look.


I don’t know about you but I feel a drawing to stones. They have stillness and calm that makes you think, encourages you to, really. Whether this is a small stone washed up on the shore, many carefully constructed together such as the Barnenez cairn or the largest specially chosen for a menhir there is always a story.

In the summer I went to Brittany for our break and visited the Barnenez Cairn. It is magnificent. Thought to have been built between 4500 and 3900bc the exact purpose remains obscure. It is part of a group and when you consider its size this indicates that the dead were given much importance in the large population. Barnenez is actually made of a primary and a secondary cairn covering 11 funerary chambers (dolmen) whose passages open onto the south side of the monument. Made of dry stone walls, there are 2 types of roofs capping the walls, megalithic capstones or corbelled domes. The two types of rock used were a local dolerite and a light coloured granite, not a surprise the second as the region is covered in the beautiful rose granite (many a good sunrise & sunset spent watching the reflections on these stones). The clever mathematic boffins have worked out that the monument is made up of 12000-14000 tonnes and the number of hours it is estimated to make would have been about 600,000, approx 300 builders for 10 months! Some of the treasures and history had given up in the excavations included tools of flint, pottery, polished axes, a copper dagger and an arrowhead with fins and barbs. Carvings have also been found, symbols showing and idol with hair spreading out, horned shaped markings and depictions of bows and axes.

We also visited various menhirs in the area, some eroded with time and nature, others eroded by man. One such was the menhir at Pleumeur-Bodou, erected between 5000-4000bc it is a little over 7.5 metres tall. Its mutilation, oops sorry I mean Christianisation, (slip of tongue honest!) dates back to the 17th century after a mission by Father Maunoir in 1674.

On the southern side they carved the “Arma Christi” the imagery often used in the 17th century. All the instruments of the Passion which are mentioned in the gospels are represented with an exception of Veronica’s veil. Towards the top on both sides are images of the sun and Moon (pagan or an interpretation of the death and resurrection?) and at the bottom a skull pertaining to represent Adam. Up until the beginning of the 20th century there were paintings and colours, on the cross added at the top a painted Christ, now obliterated by the weather and not soon to be replaced.

One day I hope to go back to Brittany and visit Carnac. Until I do I’m going to head over to Stonehenge for Littleun to see.

Monday, 23 November 2009

Green Man Doorknocker

I'm really chuffed, I never win anything on Ebay but today, on something I really liked I finally did! The house is starting to come together...

Sunday, 22 November 2009

Man in the Moon

The man in the moon is awake tonight,
With his lamp on the casement sill,
With a pocket of beams to brighten the town,
Or the woods, where nightingales bill.

He waits all alone, ‘neath a million lit stars,
Till the clouds in the wind have fled,
Then takes from his crypt a bouquet of dreams,
To sprinkle the children, in bed.

He nods to the Sun, then Venus or Mars,
To the stars, he’ll leave well alone;
They are busy, he knows, fulfilling a wish,
Or guiding the sailors back home.

Then once every month, the man in the moon,
When the children are happy in play,
Will turn down his lamp on the casement sill,
Then sleep through the night and the day.

(copyright PRISM books 2009)

Meant to post on Monday gone but couldn't find where I had stored it!

Friday, 20 November 2009

Have a gander...

You may have noticed two links I’ve added, Section 5 drummers and Rose Blakeley’s “A Pathway through the Seasons”. If you have the time please take a look.

““A Pathway through the Seasons” is Rose Blakeley’s latest book,which is a collection of delightful stories in rhyme that takes the reader on a fascinating and enchanting journey through the seasons. It is based on folklore, history and English customs, and as you travel along the pathway, you will be accompanied by all aspects of nature including flowers, trees, butterflies and birds. Each chapter is beautifully illustrated in bright colour, and also black and white, by the author herself.”(see RB website)

Section 5 are a bunch of folks who seem to have a good time making a well organised racket. Littleun loves watching the Drum Off they have at Beltane with another group and always natters on about how he wants to join when he’s older. The only time I’ve ever cursed my mum for buying Littleun a drum! To have a look click on the title above..

Thursday, 19 November 2009

Getting fit the fun way

Ok as some of you may know I have to loose weight under doctors orders. I had another check up at the quacks yesterday and bp is still ridiculously high but on a good note I have now managed to loose 21lbs. Mostly this is down to healthier eating and exercise.
This week what with the rubbish weather I haven't got out much but made up for the lack of exercise my moving everything in my front room to every spare corner in the rest of the house. Doesn't seem to hard? Well when you realise that in the moving I have shifted 4 bookcases and approx 700 books, two sofas, a piano etc etc its not that easy!
But today the weather is lovely, shinning brilliantly and so warm I've turned our heating off for the moment. And we are heading out. A group of friendly pagans have decided to shame the local council by proving just how easy it can be to clear the local woods of the horrible plastic rubbish that seems to mysteriously appear (as far as the council are concerned it'll cost to much to do it regularly!) so we are joining them and as it's family based littleun can come to.
Have a nice day all.

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

The silver lining of housework

Today I started the dreaded task of housework and moving everything out of my front room.
For this week I am finally getting my decorator to start the final restoration phase of my Victorian home. With a heavy heart I looked at the mess from all of Littleun's toys and my many many books not quite knowing which edge to start with (it kinda feels like a stormy tide, never ending and keeps coming back at you).
Several hours into it and I could now see the floor, the walls on the other hand are still well hidden. Looking at the sofas, which I will be getting rid of, and the boards holding them together I'm not sure how to deal with them. I imagine them on one side of the room and then the other. Finally I give up and head out for a walk, blowing the gunk from my mind I hit upon an idea and start for home again. Now lifting a 3 seater on your own isn't easy but it is well worth it. For I found a purse I'd long since given up and with it £45! yippee, can now afford the nicer rose for my light fittings. A silver lining indeed.

Monday, 16 November 2009

Elgin Marbles, the Parthenon and who do they belong too?

As some of you may have read I went to London this weekend. One of the things I did was visit the British Museum to look at the Elgin collection and the Egyptian collection.

Whilst wandering around trying to shut out the noise of the tourists I felt that these sculptures and reliefs were trying to say something. They gave me the feeling that it wasn’t right to house them in a building far from their homelands and settings and ultimately away from the people who believed or still believe in them and their powers. Yes the main argument for keeping them in England is partly ownership and partly preservation. But really do we have the right to own them. Were they really ever the Ottomans to give away or the British Empire to acquire if not by stealth then by their usual way in the world at the time by wealth? I strongly feel that even if the Greeks and Egyptians hadn’t started on their own preservations policies and buildings that they still belong in the original countries. I think that the British wouldn’t like it if they had their Churches ripped up and removed half way round the world so what gives us the right to keep others, Education maybe? It is a valid point that this way the countries concerned (because it’s not just Britain who have done this) can increase both the availability for first hand sight and for knowledge which enables the poorer of us to study without spending much money on travelling. Is it just an age thing, that because these items are so very old the reverence they deserve in their religious aspect is ignored? Can you imagine the horror if we tried to remove a part of St Pauls to show elsewhere or Dome of the Rock? Both are old, educational and in areas with corrosion.

So what are your thoughts? Do we have the obligation to return them? Should they be housed in climate controlled great halls in foreign lands when ultimately if you think about it they were built to be in the open, visible regardless to all who wanted to worship. Should the Gods and Goddesses be free? Or as they are dead religions to many it doesn’t really matter?

Thursday, 12 November 2009

My Birthday!!

Its my birthday in 1hour and 16 mins so in the morning I'm off to celebrate in London with a few friends. Have been to Brugge in Belgium today with the family and had a brilliant time. Lovely town with friendly folk and an amazing selection of chocolate, bang goes the diet this week, oops. Will also be visiting a couple of the museums in particular to see the Elgin marbles so will hopefully be posting a little about them on my return.
Have a great weekend all , ttfn.

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

An Dubhach; The Gloom

After feeling rather rough for a few days I’m starting to get better. I went for a lovely walk this morning and noticed that most people are looking down and gloomy. My Scottish friend calls it An Dubhach, a description of how folk feel as they head for mid-winter.

I find it sad that many are depressed at this time of year, yes its getting colder and yes the Sun isn’t about each day for as long as we would like but there is still much joy to be had from our surroundings. A walk in the woods with the robins looking down on us or a wander on the beach with the quietness after the foreign students with their constant chatter have headed back to warmer climes. Or seeing the cheer in the little girls face as she studies the dolls house through the frosty glass window, hoping no doubt to be getting it as a gift later on. One of my favourite ways of cheering up is a mug of hot chocolate as I sit next to the open wood fire, fire sparks creating patterns as they escape up the chimney, Littleun calling them the “fire Faeries” and laughing as they “dance”. We also spend this time of year making gifts and helping a neighbour who suffers terrible arthritic pain which the cold aggravates but who never lets the pain grind her down and she always has a smile and a kind word.

So when you’re wandering around suffering An Dubhach don’t worry, before long the light will return and in the meantime just look a little harder past the grimy dirt of Winter coming and see the hidden joys..

Monday, 9 November 2009

Illness, motherhood and children are not a good mix

I’ve been ill lately and it’s had a few problems. Littleun has been great playing nurse bringing me juice and trying to make me feel better. Inevitably in the only way a child can, by showing off. He has played every one of his musical instruments for me in a sort of concert method, taking his bow and clapping loudly each time. Wonderful, least it would be if it weren’t for this ragging headache that has been making itself known for the last 5 days! I suggested that maybe the music was hurting Mum and he stopped.

Mmm peace and quiet. Well almost, the singing started soon after. Apparently “row row the boat” is the only song that will make Mum better and is proudly (and loudly) sung every 5 mins or so.

I found out that you can’t be ill if you are a mum, especially if this happens to be a time where the Fella isn’t about. Have you ever tried to buy tissues, wet wipes and medicine whilst having a child hanging off your arm and dropping all your money everywhere? Apparently the assistant at Boots hasn’t otherwise instead off laughing her shrill laugh she’d of helped me!

I braved the supermarket, thinking that I had to get some food in. Littleun may well be enjoying his picnics but it really was time for some proper food. Again, not a clever idea. I dragged myself around the store, Littleun helping with the shopping. All going well and we headed to the checkout where my bill came to £10 more than normal. I didn’t think much of it till I got home and started putting it all away. I can tell you now it is not sensible to shop when ill; I mean really what am I going to do with a yam yam and a massive bag of dog biscuits (I don’t own a dog)?!

Finally got a lie in today, guess that Littleun realised Mum needed sleep and left me alone. When I woke up I opened his bedroom door, said hello and went to the bathroom. Soon heard him go “oh oh mess mum” now this is normally his excuse for getting everyone of his books off the shelves and stuffing them in his bed, so I ignored him. Mistake! When it came to me actually going into his room I realised this. Wallpaper everywhere. I don’t mean little bits two or three inches long but blooming huge sheets off the stuff covering the whole room. Ironically I have been trying for the last month to remove the very same stuff from the corridor, with no success, it was that welded on.

That set the tone for the day. By 6.30 we are ready for him to go to bed, I’m off my head on covonia and anti’s and he is just plain bonkers, we are fighting the “its bedtime routine” when we both see it, a lovely robin sitting on the roof opposite our window studying us as if to say, “what are you doing?” And suddenly I don’t feel so ill…

Friday, 6 November 2009

Ogham Reading

I recently have started to learn how to work with Ogham and have spent a while trying to find a set that I felt comfortable with. Didn’t have much luck! So I decided to make my own set. I got 20 rounded and smoothed wood “pebbles” and have made the markings on them by hand with a pyrography tool. I still need to refer to the references sheets as I’ve not managed to learn them all but hopefully with some diligence I’ll get there.

The Ogham alphabet consists originally of twenty letters, 5 added at a later date. The original twenty letters each consist of from one to five straight lines or notches intersecting a stem line. The earliest surviving Ogham inscriptions are carved on standing stones with the edge of the stone forming the stem line. These stones are found mainly in Ireland, although others have been found throughout the British Isles. The script on them usually spells out the name of an individual and they are thought to be boundary markers.

There is also evidence for the magickal and divinatory use of the Ogham alphabet from the literature of medieval Ireland.

Historically the symbols were used for divination by the use of four Yew wands, possibly pentagonal in shape so an Ogham symbol could be inscribed onto each side. The wands would always fall with one corner pointing upwards and this would be the symbol which was read. The position the sticks fell in may also have been an important factor. Recently, the Ogham alphabet has been used for divination by inscribing it onto small wooden staves or onto discs of wood. One symbol is added to each piece and they are used in a similar way to the runes.

Coincidently as I was deciding that I’d blog about this today another blogger who has given me some great reading is also on a similar theme. If you visit her blog at read all about a great rune set she is giving away.

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Oranges and Lemons for Bonfire Night

Remember Remember the fifth of November,
The gunpowder, Treason and Plot.
I see no reason why the Gunpowder Treason
Should ever be forgot....

On the 5th November all over the UK you will find celebrations for Bonfire Night, remembering Guy Fawkes and the failed Catholic plot against the Protestant King James I. And although we don’t celebrate this my family do and we have been invited to a fireworks party tonight. So I decided to make a few foody things to help keep us all warm to go with the traditional baked potatoes and stuffed apples.

Orange curd for the bread toasted on the fire:
You will need;

2 large unwaxed oranges
1 unwaxed Lemon
225g caster sugar
60g unsalted butter
4 large eggs

Wash and dry the fruit, finely grate the zest and strain the juice. Put the eggs in a separate bowl and whisk lightly. Put the juice, zest, sugar and butter into a glass heatproof bowl on a simmering pan of water, or a double boiler. Stir until the sugar is dissolved and butter melted. Strain the beaten eggs into the mixture and stir well. Continue to stir until the curd is thick enough to cover the back of a wooden spoon, at least 10 mins but up to 30 mins as needed.
(Littleun helping)

Pour into hot sterilized dry jar. Cover and seal as you would for jam. Label and date. This will keep unopened for up to 8 weeks in a fridge.

Mulled wine

1 bottle robust red wine
2 cloves
2 blades mace
2 allspice berries
1 stick cinnamon, broken
6 cardamom pods
Finely pared zest of 1 lemon
Finely pared zest of 1 orange
100g caster sugar, or to taste

Put everything but the sugar into a non-corrodible pan over a low heat. Warm to just below boiling. Remove from the heat and leave to infuse for 10-15 minutes. Return to a low heat. When hot, but not boiling, sweeten to taste. Strain and serve immediately.