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.....