Saturday, 31 October 2009

Our Samhain Altar

Our altar has various things on it that we have collected or made on special days so they may look like not a lot but they mean so much.

The wreath is our take on both a celebration of our ancestors and of the beauty that nature provides. The names you can see are the direct ancestors for Littleun and me going back to the 1700’s. I thought it was a nice way to teach Littleun about the family tree without the usual lines etc. The two photos are of my grandmothers. Although I was quite young when they passed on I have many memories of them, my grandma Lilian on her hands and knees with my sister and me making paper-chains (she was 73 at the time) or her bringing us eggs and toast in bed as we’d stayed overnight (think we were only 3 & 6 and have never been allowed this at home). Or my grandma Irene taking us to the seaside and making us “princesses of the sea” awarding us with our pageant sashes, made from seaweed found on the beach and our shell orbs. And the saying “butter to the edges so the snails can’t go round” though which one said this is a point debated often, I think it was grandma Lilian, my sister grandma Irene!

The bowl in the corner has barley in it, and we will make the rest of our offerings tonight. Currently the house smells gorgeous of soda bread and other various lovely things. Have a pot of mulled wine on the go too….

Blessed Be.

Thursday, 29 October 2009

Getting in the mood…

Sorry for the lack of posts this week but as you’re probably in the same situation you can guess it’s been a little manic. Can’t work out where the time has gone, it only seems like it was September and I was thinking “great a month to go, no problem”!

I have spent this week changing our altar from our Mabon offerings to our Samhain offerings (we like to keep the altar all the time adding things throughout the days as the time changes). We’ll add the last part on Samhain when we have our feast, our friends around us and I’ll post some photos and thoughts on this another time that hopefully you might like.

We’ve also been desperately constructing the props for mums Hallowe’en do. To get some more inspiration (and as an excuse to be a kid again) I took Littleun to a farm in the next county which had laid on all sorts of Hallowe’en treats for general amusement. Immense fun was had running around the maize maze a ghoul, ghost or pumpkin at every turn.

We met several skeletons including Femur who was a “dog hungry for a bone”, strangely the Littleun who is normally scared of dogs (long story that one) sat down and petted this dog!

We also had a right laugh catapulting pumpkins and shooting corn cobs at targets ridiculously far away and getting the backlash or pulp as we realised how useless we were at it.

Think the best part must have been the “scary hayride” which during the day was tempered for the Littleun’s but still spooky enough to get the heart going. A really funny bit was the Christmas shop tucked away in the corner; it had a little Nativity with the barn and animals etc, now I’m used to seeing these all over the place with Crosses or Stars of David over the manger but this was the first time I’ve ever seen one that had the pentagram on it. Strangely enough they didn’t like me trying to take a photo to show you!

Anyway a brilliant day, now I’ve just got to work out how I’m going to carve 23 pumpkins, buy several sacks of compost & a couple bales of straw, make cakes, biscuits and other goodies for mums Hallowe’en thing as well as getting the food prepared for our feast, visit my Grandmothers graves and my time for quietness all in tomorrow!

Monday, 26 October 2009

One hour to delay the coming Winter.

This weekend gone we have changed our clocks back from British Summertime to GMT and the difference is immediately noticeable. The coldness has snapped back in, though that’s probably due to the wonderful cloudless sunny days we’ve had and we have the sharp smells of coal and wood fires being lit as we walk home in the early darkness. With eagerness I find Autumns treats knowing that Winter is around the corner. I love this time of year. It’s good for reflection and starting anew, becoming more aware of our surroundings as everything seems clearer after the heated haze of summer. As this is also the time of year when we remember our ancestors I thought I’d share a poem that my Grandfather wrote. Hope you like it.

One hour to delay the coming Winter.

‘Tis winter time, wind back the clocks,
We have an hour to spend:
A bonus from the day in spring
When time was free to lend.

Waste not that hour when the clock strikes two
In restless sleep unplanned;
For we may live luxuriously,
With golden time in hand.

Across the hills, let’s greet the sun,
That fades the waning moon,
And wake the birds upon the bough
For we may call the tune.

And tread a path through autumn leaves,
In woodlands golden brown,
Or in the breeze that sweeps the street,
Lets dance throughout the town.

Feel free to spend each precious tick,
On treasures quaint and rare,
Or give a moment to a friend
Now that we have time to spare.

And if one part of summer-time
Was rashly spent before,
Then hold my hand and take this chance
To spend that hour once more.

copyright sja2001/PRISM Books

Saturday, 24 October 2009

Samhain Feast

So we have decided from the various lovely things growing in our garden and nearby fields what we would like to do for our Samhain feast. All the following ingredients have been either grown by us or our local farmer/butcher. He is a lovely chap with very good traditional views on animal husbandry. All his animals are allowed to wander freely on his grounds, a mixture of fields and woodland and are feed on organic natural food; he even grows his own peas to help feed the chickens, no added rubbish to make them grow unnaturally. As he says “If it is worth having its worth waiting for”. The game, venison, pheasant, wood pigeons etc are all wild and only within season would you get to buy them from him. The pumpkins are from another nearby farmer. During the year you can see his fields turning into a magical green and then orange (keep thinking Cinderella when I see them) before triumphantly he stores them at his shop for you to delightfully pick amongst. Apart from the cabbage (I’ve yet to find a way to stop the butterflies from laying on them and destroying the crop) all the rest of the fruit and vegetables we have grown in our garden.

So without further rambling, here is our menu and the recipes if they strike your fancy to try:

Pumpkin Soup serves 6-8

25g/1oz butter
1 large or 2 small onions, chopped
2 shallots, chopped
2 potatoes peeled and cubed
900g/2lb cubed pumpkin flesh
2ltr/3½ pints of vegetable stock
½tsp ground cumin
Pinch of grated nutmeg
Salt and black ground pepper
Chives to garnish

1 Melt the butter in a large saucepan and cook the onions and shallots for 4-5 minutes until just softened. Add the potatoes, pumpkin, stock and spices, with a little salt and pepper. Simmer covered for about an hour stirring occasionally.
2 With a slotted spoon, transfer the vegetables to a food processor and process until smooth adding a little of the cooking liquid if required. Stir the purée into the cooking liquid remaining in the pan. Add seasoning to taste and gently reheat.
3 Serve garnished with the chives.

Served with

Irish Soda Bread serves 4-6 per loaf (I’m greedy so normally only 4!)

225g/8oz plain white flour, extra for dusting
115g/4oz wholemeal flour
5ml/1tsp bicarbonate of soda
5ml/1tsp salt
25g/1oz butter, softened
300ml/ ½pint buttermilk

1 Preheat the oven to 200c/400f/gas 6. Grease a baking sheet. Sift the dry ingredients into a bowl. Make a well in the centre and add the butter and buttermilk. Gradually mix in the surrounding flour to make a soft dough. Shape into a ball and knead on floured surface for 3 minutes, shape back into a round again when done.
2 Place the round on the baking sheet and cut a cross in the top with a sharp knife. Dust with some flour and then bake for 40-50 minutes till golden brown, move to rack for cooling.

Roast Pheasant

Per person; 1 small pheasant
2 rashers of streaky bacon
1 small onion
Flour to coat, salt and pepper
50g/2oz butter

1 Put onion inside the pheasant then put the birds into a roasting dish. Cover the breasts with the bacon.
2 Dredge with the flour, salt and pepper, then pour the butter over the birds.
3 Cook in oven 180c/350f/gas 4 for about 10-15 minutes per pound.

Served with redcurrant gravy, carrots, parsnips and

Colcannon serves 4 (ish)

500g/1lb2oz red potatoes,
cooked250g/9oz Savoy cabbage, shredded and lightly steamed
2 tbsp cream
salt and black pepper
1 large or 2 small onions, sliced thinly
a little bacon fat or butter

1 Sieve or mash the potatoes and mix with the cabbage and cream. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
2 Fry the onion in the fat over a moderate heat until it is soft and beginning to brown.
3 Using a spatula, press half the potato and cabbage mixture in an even layer on to the onion and fry for 4-5 minutes until it is well browned and crispy underneath.
4 Cut the mixture into 4 quarters with the spatula or palette knife and turn them over carefully so that the crispy bit is uppermost. Press the remaining potato and cabbage mixture on to the first layer and after a few more minutes, cut and turn again.
5 When the bottom is again browned, you will have a crispy top too, a crispy bottom, and a crispy layer in the middle.

Golden Apples serves 4

450g/1lb shortcrust pastry
450g/1lb apples
Pinch of nutmeg
200mls/8floz boiling water
50g/2oz golden syrup
75g/3oz brown sugar

1 Roll and cut the pastry into 4 small squares then peel and core and slice the apples.
2 Place a ¼ of the apples and some of the nutmeg onto a square of pastry, fold into a triangle and place in a pie dish.
3 Repeat this with the remaining pastry and apples.
4 combine the remaining ingredients and then pour the mixture over the triangles.
5 Bake in and oven at 200c/400f/gas 6 for 40 minutes, serve with cream

Thursday, 22 October 2009

How to run a child ragged

Yesterday I thought, that’s it I’m tired of being woken up before the milkman every day. I must make this child sleep, but how?

“Take him to the beach” says one helpful friend.

“Let him run round the park” says another, “but don’t forget to catch him” (my Littleun could run for England but sadly, Forest Gump style, tends to forget to turn corners)

“I don’t know what your problem is, I never had it with you” pipes up my helpful Mother. “But, you could try swimming”

“Playgroups” “Toddler gym” and on and on the suggestions come.

So in the morning we set out, military style. Started at the local community group where there are lots of great trikes and things but all he wants to do is run up and down collecting stones outside in the yard area. Head to café and let him play with the toy corner. Triumphantly see him yawn and decide to head home. Great I think, only need to do something like this frequently and I’m fine. Moment we head off he’s wide awake. So spent the afternoon playing at another group. Still not tired. Head through town, walking, no let up there, to the beach and play for an hour. Go shopping and get Littleun to help carry it back up the hill. Still not tired. Right off to the park then. On and on till bedtime. Finally Littleun’s yawning like mad and can barely make it up the stairs.

I collapse in bed and the next thing I know its 4am, I can’t keep my eyes open and all I hear in the distance is “Mummy wake up…”

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Harvest festival at Littleun’s nursery

The nursery have decided to hold a festival, Christian based I think as they are doing it on behalf of the local Salvation Army, however they have asked for information on the Pagan festivals so that they can talk about both. Progress, we seem to be being accepted! Though how the other parents will feel when they hear I’m not to sure. The nursery have asked for donations in the form of “pre-packed, non perishable food” which kind of goes against what I do in making my own food from our garden for the Sabbats so I’m rebelling and taking in our own stuff, well they did ask me what we do. Besides I dislike the idea of Littleun eating white pre-sliced supermarket-bought rubbish so I made some bread both as rolls and as my first attempt at a harvest sheath. I’m quite pleased with it but know that practice will help; sadly this one did get a bit caught so it’s a rather dark mouse hiding in the stalks.

Before baking with egg glaze;

It is a mouse, honest!

Sunday, 18 October 2009

Hallowe’en Decorations, part two…

Well I bypassed the gravestones for now as I had a sudden flash of inspiration on what to do in our rather small porch area; the Witch’s study. I’ve a small table that’ll fit on the left and I’m going to make that her work desk, with a small old bookcase full of potions, spell books and the odd experiment or two. Here are some photos of the ones I’ve made so far. Got to say a big thank you to and, without these two great blogs I had a lot of trouble getting my ideas out of my head and into reality. Both have lots of hints and labels they don’t mind you copying if like me you’re not that clued up on using the art parts of computer programmes. Anyhow, let me know what you think of these…

Witches Goblet;

Eyeballs anyone?

Drop of poison

Saturday, 17 October 2009

Apples, glorious apples…

I love apples, in particular a Cox for a sweet apple or a Bramley for cooking, which is why we grow them in the garden. This year is the 200th celebration of the good old Bramley so off we headed up to Wisley RHS to enjoy their celebrations. Wisley is a Royal Horticultural testing garden growing hundreds and hundreds of plants, vegetables and fruits, beautiful place especially this time of year.

We had various tents spread around the acres showing all sorts of food and wares for us to sample (the best had to be Jolly’s dips, scrummy chillis & chutneys) surrounded by the gentle hum of people enjoying themselves, oh also a lovely big lake in the background with some very noisy ducks.

I picked up the following recipe, you've got to try it, it’s so tasty as we found out (diet out the window today!):

Burnt Apple Cream

1kg of Bramley (or other dissolving cooker) apples
1 Cinnamon stick
150g Caster Sugar
250ml Double Cream
4 tbsp Soft Brown Sugar
Ground Cinnamon

*Peel, core and slice apples, then cook over a gentle heat, stirring occasionally, with cinnamon stick and a little water, until apples form a purée. Stir in the caster sugar to taste.
*Divide purée between six heatproof ramekins, leaving a generous centimetre at the top and chill thoroughly.
*Whip cream until very thick. Spread over chilled apple purée, covering it completely and levelling across the top. Return to fridge or, briefly, freezer, until cream is very cold but not frozen ( this allows you to caramelise the sugar without boiling the cream).
*Preheat grill to max heat. Sprinkle a thin even layer of soft brown sugar over the chilled ramekins (not more than 2tsps per ramekin).
*Place ramekins under the grill until sugar starts to melt and bubble. With a bit of luck this will happen before the cream underneath starts to bubble up but don’t worry if this does happen. It may not look so good but will still taste great.
*Return ramekins to the fridge until quite cold. Serve with a pinch of powdered cinnamon on top of the caramel.

As well as the apples they also had on show some of the other vegetables they had been growing, in particular the pumpkins and squashes.

Hidden in all corners around the place we had fun finding them along with our first Robin of the season.

Pumpkin festival next week...

Thursday, 15 October 2009

Hallowe’en celebrations, part one

This year my mum wants to celebrate Hallowe’en for the neighbourhood children and said to me “you do it all seeing as you’ve gone that way”. Trying to convince her that Hallowe’en and Samhain aren’t quiet the same thing is somewhat pointless though, so with gusto I’ve thrown myself into the type of decorations she wants and I am currently in the middle of her green witch.

I have found a dress that should fit it and am going to spray paint it glittery so when the candle lights glimmer against it you can see it shinning. The only problem I have is trying to get it to stand up. So far everything I have tried has been top heavy but will get there, trying drainpipes next.

I’ve also found some lovely biscuit cutters shaped like bats and pumpkins for us to make and some cup cake cases for the buns which have spiders and webs all over. We’ve been doing all this for a while but looking at the dates my lazy speed will have to pick up else I’m not going to get it all done on time! On to the gravestones next…

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Sad I know but still excited!

I know this is a really sad thing to get excited about but I've just said good bye to my window fitters! For the first time ever I've now got double glazing and its so quiet and warm is brilliant.

For 9 years now I've lived in a Victorian house which is falling down. Its a lovely house full of character but also full of holes, everywhere, in the roof, in the floors around the window frames you name it there is a hole in it. Now finally we are starting to get near completion on the repairs. To date we've had the front wall reattached to the house, the roof re-slated, though the render is off so we've got to get that done again and now the windows changed.

Looking forward to my decorator lady coming tomorrow as she is going to give me advise on what colours and tiles etc I can use. I'm hoping to use local products, there is a pottery nearby who will be making my hearth tiles and a local paint company that specialise in making colours close to the originals that would have been in the house when it was built.

I've also contacted a local contractor regarding insulating the roof with eco-friendly reused paper and wool! Not too sure how it works but basically its recycling the materials into a packed wedge which gets laid the same as roc-wool but without the harming effects.

Yay, so excited as I can finally after all this time see the house finished, just been a dream before.

Sunday, 11 October 2009

Pagan Parenting.

This I find is a tricky one. How much do I teach my Littleun about what I am doing and my Path? Not quite understanding my Path yet myself I haven’t a clue about how to explain it to him.

I have always brought him up to understand what, I think, are the basic principles of most Pagans; Harm no one, respect yourself and others, respect the Earth and Nature. Though, in my opinion, this is what children should be taught regardless of spirituality or religion. I haven’t taught him much at all about the Deities as I strongly feel that this is part of your Path that you find on your own. What might be the way for one person is not that for another.

Littleun has started to ask questions, some simply answered but others not, about what I am doing. The simple ones of why I say “Thank you” and place some on our altar, when collecting the food we grow are easily answered but why Mummy’s friend doesn’t like Mummy’s “pretty altar” (his words) is a little harder to explain without making him feel that what I am doing is wrong (mummy’s friend is Christian, funny how a faith supposed to be so forgiving can have some followers so harsh!).

I have looked at various websites but they don’t really seem to cover much more than the arty side of parenting and most of them seem to say “explain when you think the child is ready”

So here’s my question, where or how do I go from here?

Thursday, 8 October 2009


Have you noticed how noisy life is? I’ve got to the stage where I can no longer hear myself think and as part of my path I have decided to give myself time without any modern interferences. Each day I‘d try and give myself at least half an hour of silence. I turn the phones off, switch off the computer, tv & radio and shut out the human world.

Today I decided as it wasn’t raining I’d go to the beach and sit watching the seagulls sweeping over the calm twinkling sea for the fishes. It was beautiful, the fishermen were far out catching their lot and these birds were chasing behind the boats darting for any easy pickings. I wandered down to the rock pools and found the colours of the anemone enhanced by the sunshine through the water and the odd crab scuttling back to his rock. Before I realised it 1½ hours had passed, my stress has disappeared and I felt quiet again….

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Beds are for sleeping in right?

So you’d be forgiven if like me you thought beds were sleeping in. Apparently if you ask Littleun they are not.

Today I had the wonderful task of getting Littleun to bed. This is normally not too difficult, a bath, milk, teeth, story, cuddle and bed. Simple routine but normally works. Bedtime is 7pm.

7pm: “Night night Littleun”. “Night Mum” he replies as he ever so cutely curls up under his duvet, cuddling Teddy and looking like he is about to fall asleep, he can’t keep his eyes open.

7.05pm: I’m now downstairs cooking my tea when I hear the most almighty noise. Littleun has decided that he wants the books off his case.

7.10pm: “Littleun, it’s bed time” “yes mum” “no more books” “yes mum” “you stay in bed now” “yes mum” all contrite tucked up into bed. Chair removed from bedroom. Lights out.

7.40pm: I’m now eating my tea when I hear another almighty crash. Can’t think how he has done it as he hasn’t got the chair. Go and check and find he has dragged the linen box this time. Remove box. Go through the “its bedtime” conversation and go back downstairs.

8.00pm: Peace and quiet so I start my work when, screech screech screech. As I am running up the stairs, dodging toys and clothes (really must stop using the staircase as storage areas) I rack my brains to think what is left in the room.

8.01pm: I run into the bedroom and trip straight over the bed. Bed?! Believe it or not a 4year old can really move a solid pine bed, all the bedding and mattress, three teddies, Noddy and several books I missed the first time, across 15 foot of bedroom.

8.10pm: I put the room back together, repeat for the third time the “it’s bedtime” conversation and go downstairs. I open a bottle of wine and give up as I hear the creaking and tiny patter of his feet as he creeps across his bedroom, I'm thinking he is going to climb the case again when I hear a sweet little voice say "sweet dreams, don't let the buggies bite, love you" before he jumps back into bed and promptly falls asleep.

Littleun, frustratingly mad but you've got to love him..

Monday, 5 October 2009


I'm hoping to make a button of my own but I've no idea how to do it. Anyone know? This blogging business is quite tricky if you've not got any IT knowledge like little old me.

If you go down to the woods today…

You might just find such delights like the toadstools and mushrooms we did.

Yesterday after looking out the window and realising the forecasted rain hadn’t appeared we trundled off to a lovely place called Bedgebury Pinetum.

It’s a formal pinetum and woodland area owned by the Forestry commission this is a great place for anyone who loves nature to take a walk in. They had hidden play areas which Littleun loved. As you wander through the woods with the birds singing, suddenly a clearing with brilliant sunshine would open up and a clever climbing frame made out of wood would be there for all to try (though you’ve got to be a bit fitter than me!). They also had highwires and ziplines but you’ve got to be a slightly mental to use them, they looked so high. We spent several hours hunting for hidden treasures and found plenty of toadstools and mushrooms as well as the odd squirrel and rabbit.

But the colours were the main attraction, golds, reds and browns interlaced through the deep greens of the evergreen trees, hollies mixed with sweet smelling pines, oaks with horse-chestnut trees. Pine needles layering a thick blanket on the floor with old trunks fallen in storms creating walls to clamber around and over. All in all a great autumn day well spent.

Saturday, 3 October 2009

Seeing if I can load photos, Mabon Altar...

I'm testing out what I can do on this blog today. Trying to load photos so not too sure how it'll go! Anyhow the first photo is meant to be one of our Mabon Altar, yes I know it's past that now but it's a pretty altar (well imo) and I kinda wanted to show it off.

The centre candle is something Littleun and I made after one of our woodland walks, we'd collected loads of small pinecone type things and beech cases and after pouring plaster of paris into a cake tray he stuck the items and candles in, not too bad for a 4yr old, though he is quite eager to put everything in, never knows when to stop!

You can see it a little better in this one, hey I'm getting the hang off this. We had a great Mabon, invited friends and family around for the dinner, spent all day baking bread and apple pie, also did a very yummy venison casserole with redcurrants from our nearby farm.

Well got to go as am baking faerie cakes today for a friends party. 25 3-4 yr olds in a soft play gym, gonna need earplugs! Afterwards off for a wander under the chestnut trees, had a lot of wind last night so may have some fallen treasures to find...

Friday, 2 October 2009


Ok, so welcome to my attempt at blogging. I’m not great at writing and often completely unable to get the really well formed arguments and sentences (well least that’s what I kid myself they are) out onto paper from the depths of my brain. So bare with me!

I’m a single (ish) mum of a very very hyper active 4yr old boy. The “ish” is because although I love his dad we are hopeless at living together so have decided not too but to have a much better relationship where we can meet up have loads of fun and then go to our own homes instead of staying in one and arguing, works for us anyhow.

I live in a fishing town in the south east of England on the sunny coast just outside the lovely hills, countryside and farms that surround us. You can often find the Littleun and me wandering through the woods or on the beach looking for things to add to our “nature collection”.

We’ve recently “come out” as Pagans, something which has mightily upset more folk than I had thought it would but we are persevering with the education of them that this doesn’t mean we are Satanists with daily human sacrifices as one local lady thought. I’ve not found the answers to everything within Paganism, but I have felt a lot happier since embracing the back to nature and respecting earth and folk ideals. Certainly we are a lot healthier since growing our own food and cooking most from scratch ourselves without horrible mass produced ready meals from the local supermarket!

I’m not too sure what this blog will be about, a lot of you seem to have themes which is great but I’m not that organised so no doubt it’ll be the ramblings of what ever project I’m attempting at the time, oh and the odd occasional rant at the frustrations of not having enough energy to keep up with Littleun.

Anyway, please feel free to comment and advise as the one thing I am sure of that I’d like from this blog is chatting with like-minded folk who might just have the good ideas I need for that moment.

Wishing you a great day. Jen.