Category Archives: Cleaning & Organizing

The Wheel Turns to Lughnassadh 2015…………..

imagesCAO8O6RVMerry Meet my friends!  It’s a very relaxing Sun day here at my house.  We had a wonderful rainstorm early this morning which gave way to sunshine.  Now, it is overcast but it looks like no more rain on the radar for now.  That’s actually a good thing! We have had a LOT of rain. To the point, some of my plants are suffering.  Too much water, yellow leaves, less blooms.  I have completely lost a catmint and several geraniums. But other plants are thriving on the water!

We have also had a lot of cool weather..many days not out of the 70’s with very cool nights.  This..I have loved! Those who know me or read me often enough, know I’m not crazy about really hot weather!  It’s been quite Fall-like on some of the days.  Speaking of Fall, Lughnassadh/Lammas is upon us…this August 1…the First Harvest Festival! The Wheel turns fast does it not?

“The grain to harvest’s cutting falls
to make the bread for banquet halls.
We’ll save some seeds where life’s waiting,
and plant a new field come next Spring.
We shared the work we needed to do,
and now we’ll share the eating too!
Thank you, fruit, and thank you bread,
for making sure that we are fed.”
–  Ashleen O’Gaea,
Celebrating the Seasons of Life

Believe it or not, the days are getting shorter and Autumn is on it’s way. This Sabbat marks the ending of summer and the first harvest of the grain. It was known as the time when the plants of Spring wither and drop their fruits or seeds for our use as well as to ensure future crops. This time of year, though it’s still hot and sultry, it’s also a very busy time of  year for harvesting. For gardeners and farmers alike! We are reaping what we sowed in the Spring.  Our bounty is coming in and needs to be taken care of.  On Facebook, I’m seeing wonderful pictures of veggies, fruits and herbs that my friends are harvesting from their gardens.  The Farmer’s markets and roadside stands are abundant in products from the local farms as well.  Corn is growing to full height and tomatoes are everywhere! It’s wonderful to see.  But I also always keep in mind  our ancestors, and how it wasn’t a hobby, but a necessity of life.  It was their food that would get them through the long, cold Winter months.  Harvesting, putting up, canning, preserving were all very much necessary and hard work!  I always remember this as I give thanks for my small harvest and for the local farmers around me.

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I love that we still can our bounty from our gardens. I love when I hear of someone “putting up” the veggies and fruits, making jams, jellies, sauces and preserves.  Freezing what can be frozen and preserving for Winter’s use.  It takes me back to my childhood when I helped my grandmother do this.  I was a very happy little girl when it was canning day.  I do some of it to this day, but not like she did.  But I believe there are still many of us who do this, despite the fact food is readily available at the store.  There is nothing like the freshness of something we grew, harvested, preserved. Way better in most cases than what can be found in a store!

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There are so many ways to celebrate this wonderful Sabbat.  Have a feast with your family and friends..outside while the weather is still nice.  Fix lots of fresh veggies and fruits, they are great grilled on the grill 🙂  Have a bonfire, drink wine!  Go to a medieval fair or craft show..this time of year they are everywhere.  Have a picnic!  Lay on a blanket under the stars and find the constellations, watch for shooting stars.  Catch fireflies and let them go. Listen to the crickets, hug a tree and enjoy the fresh taste of a warm-off-the-vine tomato!

If you don’t have a garden of your own, offer to help a friend harvest or can..I bet you’ll be sent home with lots of goodies.  Or visit a farmer’s market and stock up on veggies and fruits there to do your own canning and freezing. I love to make flavored oils and vinegars from my homegrown herbs. They will give your salads, meats, egg dishes etc  that fresh herbal taste all winter long. Baking bread is a huge part of celebrating Lughnassadh/Lammas. Have a bread baking day with your family. Put grains, fruits and nuts in the bread  and send a loaf home with everyone.  Make corn dollies or Brighid’s crosses from corn stalks. Have a family game day with the kids and grandkids.  Plan a “tournament” of corn hole for the kids, or croquet, or kickball…playing games is just what the Celts did for Lughnassadh…called the Lugh games. So so much to do for this first wonderful Harvest festival!

Lughnasadh is a great time to start your Autumn cleaning.  There are things to do to get your house ready for Winter now while it’s still warm out. Clean your carpets, curtains, and windows. Have your furnace checked. Clean your coats and winter clothes and hang them out on the clothesline for that yummy fresh, clean scent. Wash your linens and hang them on the line too! Get your fireplace checked so it’s ready for the wonderful fires you’ll have soon. Order a cord of wood and get it stacked. I actually LOVE Fall cleaning…I call it nesting 🙂  Preparing to be indoors, while you can still be outdoors, just makes sense.

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But for now, Summer is still in full swing. Spend time outside.  Feel the warmth, feet on the ground, back against a tree.  Feel the breeze, hear the birds, watch the squirrels, daydream, doze….rest.  They say summer days are lazy, hazy and crazy.  I say that sounds wonderful too!  But yes, bring on the harvest and the Autumn..my favorite time of year!

“Whilst August yet wears her golden crown,
Ripening fields lush- bright with promise;
Summer waxes long, then wanes, quietly passing
Her fading green glory on to riotous Autumn.”
– Michelle L. Thieme

Oh, July 31 is a Blue Full Moon!  Be sure to use that power! A Full Moon so close to a Sabbat always means lots of energy is swirling! I’ll be back soon with a couple recipes.  Also, be sure to check out the Lughnassadh issue of Imramma Magazine on July 26th! You can click on the icon on the right of this post. I’ll have some recipes posted there too. In the meantime, have a wonderful week!!

Blessings and Love, Autumn

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Filed under Autumn, Blue Moon, Cleaning & Organizing, Family, Flowers, Gardens, Herbs, Lammas/Lughnassadh, quotes, Sabbat, Summer

The Wheel Turns to Beltane 2015……….

Forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet

and the winds long to play with your hair.

-Khalil Gibran

download (3)Merry Meet and Happy Spring on this beautiful April day.  I love April, always have. Not only because it’s the month I was born, but because it brings in Spring!  The weather is a bit unpredictable…we can have snow one day, near 80* temps another with lots of wind, rain, storms and tornado warnings thrown in for good measure.  The last few days it’s rained and stormed here a lot! But it’s been a good thing for Mother Earth as she is greening more and more every day.  I love the color green and it’s everywhere!  Our grass is really green and lush, trees are budding, spring bulbs and flowering bushes and trees are bloomed, and my summer plants have green sprouting up.  In my herb bed, cilantro and garlic are up already and my lavender is greening too!  I so love it!  Today, I woke up to a chill in the Air but it’s warming up to 60* and the Sun is shining so it’s a beautiful day!

I have been Spring cleaning like crazy as well.  The winter linens are put away, winter clothes being put away to make room for our Spring/Summer clothes.  My clothesline is back up.  I have taken each day a trash bag and gone around the house just pitching stuff.  Drawers, cupboards and closets are all checked for items no longer needed. It is so freeing to de-junk!  You’d be amazed what’s in your home that no longer serves a purpose. Whether it be paperwork, knickknacks, clothes, shoes, dishes etc…there are things in your home that can go I’m sure!  My home feels lighter and simpler with everything that goes out the door.  Add fresh flowers to mason jars on your window sill, open windows to air out your house and wash windows and you’ll feel like Spring has arrived INSIDE your home too!

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My seedlings so far this year!

Beltane is approaching fast! One of my favorite Sabbats..probably because it’s one of the first ones that I can celebrate outside without being cold!  I’ve written in the past 5 years all the many ways to celebrate this Sabbat and for me, that hasn’t changed.  I still have an outdoor fire, weather permitting, and burn any of the last of my dried herbs that have grown old and dusty hanging in my kitchen.  The scent is incredible!  I plant my seedlings in their outdoor beds, make offerings to the Fae of honey and bread, set out new wards and protection for my home and yard, and spend as much time barefoot in the grass with my hands in the dirt as I can!  A wonderful feast of fresh veggies, fruits, and grains are had by whoever decides to come by for dinner. And I never forget to gather the morning dew to wash my face in…to bring youth and beauty to this aging face of mine 🙂

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My Coven will gather, if not on Beltane shortly after.  Last year we made up May baskets (in jars really) to distribute to our elderly neighbors and loved ones. It was a lot of fun and I imagine we’ll do it again this year 🙂  We then welcome the Sun God…rejoicing in the return of the longer days, warmer weather, and Mother Earth blooming forth in all Her glory.

Other things I enjoy doing in the Spring….walks are a must.  I now have a gathering bag, a wildflower reference book and a good knife for gathering wild herbs on my walks. It’ll also hold acorns, pinecones, feathers and stones and whatever else I might come across on my walk that calls to me.  A walk by a pond, in a woods, on a beach, in a meadow…..whatever place I can find that allows me to enjoy being under the Sun again, outdoors.  Attending a pagan festival or maypole gathering, drum circles which usually move outdoors now, picnics in the park, drives out into the country to find early farm stands, visiting a botanical garden or butterfly house, going fishing, planting a tree and whatever else you can think of to do outdoors will help you to celebrate the change in the season, the turning of the wheel….Beltane!

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Remember too that Beltane is about the God and Goddess coming together in love and lust for each other.  Whether you have a partner or not, find a way to spread some love.  For yourself and others. Do something for yourself..whatever it is you need.   Be kind, be joyful, be peaceful and spread Love.  You will gain back much in return.  There is so much un-kindness in our online experiences and in our real life.  We see bad news everyday, people being mean, judgemental, non-accepting….that we can get discouraged from it.  But spreading LOVE starts with each of us.  I know so many of you do just that…all my friends do…or they wouldn’t be my friend! lol.

So my friends….Spring and soon, Beltane, have arrived here in the Northern Hemisphere.  It’s a beautiful time of year and I for one will be taking complete advantage of every moment!  Enjoy the greening, blooming, warming of Mother Earth.  Enjoy lightening up on your clothes and foods. Enjoy the Sun on your head and the grass under your feet.  Make love, grow flowers, and dance under the light of the Moon!

I’ll be back soon with some recipes of course, along with pics of my gardens as they bloom and whatever else I find I’d like to tell you about.  I’ll have a new herb posting very soon too.  So for now, I wish you all a very Happy weekend! Make it magickal!

Blessings and Love, Autumn

*All photos are either my own or creative common license.

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Filed under Beltane, Cleaning & Organizing, Faeries, Family, Flowers, Friends, Garden, Gardens, God, Goddess, Holiday, Mother Earth, My Favorite Things, My Writing, Nature, Photography, Protection, Quote, Seasons, Spring, Sun

The Wheel Turns to Imbolc 2015…….

“Every gardener knows that under the cloak of winter lies a miracle

 a seed waiting to sprout, a bulb opening to the light, a bud straining to unfurl.

 And the anticipation nurtures our dream.”
–  Barbara Winkler

imagesCA48N7RIMerry Meet my friends and Blessed Imbolc Eve!  I have been very remiss about writing in my blog and I’m sorry for it. Before I go further though, this post is my 200th blog post and I have been blogging now for 5 years! I can’t believe it’s been that long! I want to thank you all so much, my readers and friends, for showing any interest in my writings. I very much appreciate you!

Since the holidays I have been busy enjoying Winter!  I have been reading like crazy which was one of my goals I set at New Years.  Even following a couple of book challenges and I’m enjoying it tremendously.  I’m one of those people who have a house full of books, including some shelves of books I have yet to read.  I love reading and Winter for me is the perfect time for it.  How about you? Are you reading more when forced to be indoors more?

Another thing I’ve been working on is making up an herbal chest for medicinal use.  If you’re a fan of Outlander ..books and series…by Diane Gabaldon, you might know what I’m talking about. I adore everything Outlander!   I made up a chest much like Claire’s “wee” box of medicinals.  I’ve added all the herbs that to me have a purpose of use for good health, healing, calming etc.  I’ve of course added essential oils, and things like gauze, bandages, scissors, tweezers, thermometer, and some modern day meds too.  Have a tummy ache, I have candied ginger, fennel seeds, or peppermint herb for tea. In pain, I have nettle tea or arnica salve.  Have a cut, I have my own healing salve. You get the idea 🙂  It was a lot of fun to do.

But while we are smack dab in the middle of Winter here in Ohio, tomorrow is Imbolc.  When day and night are equal and we recognize that the light extends each day and takes us to the first day of Spring in March.  We honor Brighid on Imbolc by keeping a fire on the hearth and inviting her into our homes with the use of a corn dolly, Brighid’s cross, or Bride’s bed.  I like to light candles all over the house, and at midnight swing open the doors and invite to come to my hearth bringing peace, protections, joy and abundance to my home for the year. Imbolc is also about doing our Spring cleaning both in our homes and in our own attitudes and situations. Throwing out those things that are no longer useful, old, raggedy, ugly, joyless…clearing our spaces of clutter leaves us open to new possibilities and bringing light into our dark places.

I have been working on my home for a couple weeks now. Attacking the cobwebs in the corners, cleaning out drawers and closets, making the hard decisions of do I really need this or want this in my home? Rugs and curtains and throw blankets and bed linens all getting washed and scented.  I have used herbal vinegar waters to mop and clean windows (not that you can tell after the rains lol) I organized my file cabinet, pitched papers no longer needed and filed what I do need in a better way.  Even my Witch cupboard got a good cleaning out today…pitching old herbs and incense (or burning them in our fire) cleansing crystals and my tools, salting and saging everything.  It was fun and it looks and smells great!  (picture isn’t great because our power was out for awhile today..but you can see how neat it is lol)

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Gardeners are beside themselves knowing Winter is halfway over.  I know several witchy gardeners who have ordered their seeds, planned their garden beds and are dreaming of digging in the dirt again.  I myself ordered 18 packets of seeds today….a mix of herbs, veggies and flowers.  Can’t wait to get them.  Planning your gardens are a great way to spend these cold Winter days.

 

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Tonight, it’s pouring rain.  We didn’t get the snow expected..like nothing! I’m so bummed lol.  But it’s a good night for quiet and contemplation, lit candles and fire.  Besides writing this blog, I’m journaling my thoughts for what I want to manifest in the Spring.  I have written down and will burn those things I want to release in my life.  Old angers, hurts, frustrations, poor habits are all good things to let go of.  I bet you have some of those things you can let go of too?  Try burning it..it’s so satisfying!!!

Imbolc has been one of my favorite Sabbats, as I’ve said before, because it was the first one I really celebrated.  That magickal feeling I got when I washed my floors and windows with herbal washes, lit white and red candles, cleansed my home and invited Goddess Brighid to join us in our home…well, I get that feeling still 16 years later. I want to wish all of you a very Blessed Imbolc.  May Brighid bring you all wonderful things for the coming year.  May the rest of the Winter be kind to you too…remember Spring will come!

 

Blessings and Love, Autumn

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Filed under Books, Cleaning & Organizing, Flowers, Gardens, Goddess, Herbs, Holiday, Imbolc, Photography, Protection, Quote, Seasons, Spring, Sun, Winter

Happy 2015 and Winter Blessings……….

Merry Meet my friends!  I’m a bit later writing a blog post for the New Year than I should be. My muse left me I think while I recovered from the holidays! I hope that you all had a very happy Yule, Christmas, and New Year with your loved ones and friends.  I know I did.  It was even a slower paced holiday season for us this year and much enjoyed.  We ate too much, relaxed, visited with friends and family, had gift exchanges and watched the ball drop quietly.  The holiday decorations are packed away til next year and the house has been cleaned and cleansed and the fireplace often has a crackling fire happily going. There’s often something baking in the oven or simmering on the stove, and my stack of books I want to read this year actually has had a dent put in it 🙂

Today is a beautiful, blue sky, sunny day but it is also a deep freeze out there!  We got about 5-6 inches of snow a few days ago and since then we have had a lot of negative temperatures as well.  I don’t mind it too much though.  I love nesting in for cold Winter days..cause I can.  I know not everybody has that luxury of not having to go out, I’m blessed that way. Freezing wind that takes your breath away and watching snow fall isn’t bad at all when you’re cozy and warm indoors. But I also like to go outside in the Winter. There is something bracing and beautiful about the quietness of Winter.  The skies when clear, are so clear as to hurt your eyes.  At night, the inky, cold black of the skies makes the stars and Moon shine so brilliantly. Don’t you think so?  Taking walks while a soft snow falls is such a wonderful thing to do too.

I posted this picture the other day from facebook on my page.  I have seen it before and love it.  I don’t know who the original poster of this picture is but credit is given on the picture itself for this one.

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Earthing…..a concept I’ve always been familiar with but didn’t know what to call it.  When I was a kid, it was for me “getting out in nature” or “sinking my feet in the ground” or “connecting with Mother Earth.”   I love the term Earthing and have adopted it.  When I posted this picture I asked my friends how they go Earthing in the dead of Winter with snow on the ground.  I got some great answers and had a few of my own and thought I’d share them with you.  For many people, Winter is a depressive time of year. The “Winter Blues” is a very real thing.  Oh sure, some of us just grouse and complain about the cold and missing Summer etc (not me I don’t LOL) but for many it’s a real depression that sets in.  For Witches, being outside with our bare feet in the dirt is a necessity of Life.  It’s a serious need.  It centers us, grounds us, lifts our spirits physically, mentally and spiritually.  It’s a huge part of our spirituality.  This connection to Mother Earth….not just seeing her but FEELING her.  In the Winter, needless to say, being barefoot can be an issue.  So here are a few ideas for those who need that connection..no matter what your Path is.

*Go ahead and go barefoot.  For however long you can handle it 🙂  I got that answer several times from my friends.  Feel that mushy earth and cold snow under your feet.  Or the hard, cold ground.  Come in and soak your feet in a nice warm salt bath and your spirits will be lifted and your feet will feel great!

*Go out and hug a tree.  Another popular response.  Feel that connection to Earth through a strong tree that stands stark and dark in the cold weather.  The vibrations are there for you to absorb and feel.

*Take a walk.  This seems obvious to me but a lot of people don’t like walking in the snow.  Of course, if there’s an inch of ice out there don’t go and hurt yourself. But bundling up and taking a brisk walk is good for you anytime. Collect some things from nature while you’re out.  Pine cones, acorns, rocks, feathers, greens etc.  Bring them home and place them in a bowl with a lit white candle.  The scent will fill your house with outdoors.  Light a roaring fire and have a hot chocolate or coffee.and you’ll feel exhilarated!

*Get out your gardening books, magazines, catalogs and start planning your gardens for Spring. Perusing them, dreaming of working in your gardens will help you to remember that Spring will be here before you know it.  Perhaps you can plant some seed starters and get started inside.  The scent of green things growing in rich dirt in little pots should help you a lot and you’ll have an early start on your gardens.  I was at Lowe’s the other day and they already have their seeds and pots out!

*Keep indoor plants.  Watering and tending to indoor plants keeps your hands in the dirt.  Some herbs on your kitchen window sill, some large tropical or tree plants in the house are always nice.

*Take a class on gardening or herbs.  I’m working over this Winter and however long it takes me, on an herbalist class. It  keeps me thinking of being outdoors growing my herbs, their scent, cutting and drying them etc.  I still have herbs hanging in my kitchen I have dried. Rubbing my hands over them and smelling those wonderful scents keeps me in mind of warmer days with the Sun on my back, feet on the ground and hands dirty from digging.  Happy thoughts indeed!

* Get some Sun!  There are a LOT of gloomy, overcast days in the Winter.  If I get the blues over the Winter, it’s often because of lack of sunshine. I don’t care how cold it is outside if the Sun is shining.  Find that sunny spot in the house and sit there for a bit, face to the Sun.  Absorb it into your skin.  You’ll feel better right away.  On those gloomy days..light candles, turn on lights, put on upbeat music.  Do something to make yourself feel light!  Cats and dogs are a perfect example of how much fun laying in the Sun can be.  They search out those spots don’t they? 🙂  Do as they do 🙂

*Go outside and do something fun..something adventurous!  Go sledding, skiing, ice skating, ice fishing or play hockey. Get that sense of snow days that kids have. Remember that?  As kids weren’t snow days just the best things in the world?  We didn’t sit around bemoaning the cold….nope…we got bundled up and stayed outside until our toes and fingers were frozen, our noses were running and cheeks were bright red.  But our eyes too were sparkling and our energy was abounding and we had FUN!!   Do that!!

*Give yourself a project to do.  Perhaps de-cluttering and organizing your house. Cleaning out closets and drawers is so satisfying. Perhaps you’ve always wanted to write a book, paint, crochet, spin wool, throw a pot, play with clay, start a blog, learn yoga or meditation, etc etc.  Witches can work on their grimoires or book of shadows. Keep yourself busy doing something you love. Or learn something new. You get the idea.

Well, these are just a few ideas, I’m sure there are many more.  Don’t let Winter become something dreary and hated that you just have to get through before the days of Sunshine and roses come back.  Winter is a long season and that is a LOT of days to feel bad, feel sad, to dread.  Every day is a gift, no matter the weather.  Make the most of it. If being lazy and reading is all you want to do ..then good..do it. But do it cheerfully with a smile on your face okay?

Blessings of the Winter season to you and may 2015 bring you all the joy and happiness you deserve! I’ll be back soon with bits of magick I’m working on here and there and of course recipes etc.  Imbolc will be before we know it!

Blessings and love, Autumn

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Filed under Book of Shadows, Books, Cleaning & Organizing, Family, Friends

Blessed Imbolc 2012……….

Merry Meet again friends.  Hope all is well with all of you!  Whew….I don’t know about you but I’m tired and energized at the same time!  I have spent a couple weeks really deep cleaning my house..”Spring” cleaning as some say….to get my home ready for Imbolc.  I have cleaned high and low, ceilings to floor, linens and curtains washed, ceiling fans cleaned, cobwebs and dust bunnies swept away.  Closets, drawers, and cupboards are organized and de-cluttered.  Furniture swept and cushions flipped and fluffed. Bathrooms scrubbed, floors swept and mopped……  Everything has been cleaned!  My house looks great…the energy feels great and I’m ready for Imbolc.  That is why I’m both tired and energized.  I’m tired from the work….but so energized in what I’ve accomplished and how great my house feels!

Now…there is still a couple things that need done…and they will get done..just not by Thursday. LOL.   Carpets are going to be cleaned but not til March or so..after our chance of snow is gone.  My windows need cleaned ..the high ones we don’t do ourselves..and again, that will be done in the Spring.  Now…tomorrow, I will be smudging the house in every corner.  Placing my protection sigils all around the house, fresh salt in all the corners etc. The weather is going to be very Spring-like..near 60*!  I’m going to take advantage of that.  Opening windows to let that fresh air come in and the stale air out.  Really, we have had an amazingly mild Winter this year.  So many warm days and very little snow.   I am still hoping for a good snow!  The kind you get snowed in, fire going, jammies on and hot drink in hand, can’t go anywhere snow.  Now that all my housework is done, I could just relax and read and work on my BOS and things I have a hard time finding time for 🙂  But the mild Winter has been very nice as well.  As a matter of fact, I plan on going for a walk at our local nature preserve and enjoying that warm weather! There is a rescue raptor center there..and I love to go and visit the owls that reside there permanently.  I adore Owls and need a fix!

 I got my altar done today…thought you would like to see the pictures.

I went with pretty much a red and white theme, with a bit of gold and green thrown in.  The red and white is traditional colors for the Goddess Brighid.  This year, I’m using her colors to honor her. The green, shown in the live greens from my yard, and the green celtic knots on the votive holders..represent both her mantle of green, the seasonal greens that will be burned in a fire on Imbolc, and of course the green celtic knots represent the fact that she is Celtic. I chose  a silver candle for the Goddess and a gold one for the God.

In the greens I put some red feathery stalks and will add red and white fresh flowers by thursday.  I have all my usual altar reps for the elements, my tools etc.  Ok…the Goddess statue is my new gorgeous Hecate statue.  I do not have a Brighid statue so Hecate is standing in for her.  Brighid is a triple Goddess as is Hecate the crone aspect of a triple Goddess.  They both mean so much to me that I don’t think Brighid will mind 🙂  Isn’t she gorgeous? I can’t stop looking at her!  My goddess is standing on a favorite book of poetry..a very old, fragile book of Tennyson poems..as Brighid was the Goddess of poets.  There is a bit of silver in my pendants as well to represent her smithcrafting.   Blessing oil for my re-dedication, some ribbons I’ll use for cord magick, my 7 candles…red and white..in a circle for another ritual I’ll do.   Crystals, more candles, and my cakes and ale will round it out.  I really like it! It feels good to me 🙂 

No matter how much or how little you do to get ready for Imbolc, do something to recognize the day.  If all you do is light a candle, take a walk, open a window, have a quiet meal with your family..whatever you please is just fine.  But honor the day.  So many people are not overly fond of Winter.  Imbolc, lets us know that Spring is coming and it will be here before we know it!  It’s a promise from the Goddess, Mother Earth, the Sun God.  Enjoy the Sabbat…rest and relax for the rest of the Winter and I wish you all a Blessed Imbolc to you and your loved ones.  May the Goddess Brighid give you Peace, Love and Joy! 

Blessings and Light, Autumn 

 

 

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Filed under Altars, Cleaning & Organizing, God, Goddess, Imbolc, Photography, Spring, Winter

My favorite Comfort Food recipe…..

Merry Meet everyone!  Hope that all of you are safe and sound….there is some bad weather hitting some of the states tonight.  I’m in a watch area myself.  But so far..it’s just pea-soup foggy out there.  I have been a very busy Witch!  My Imbolc cleaning is going on strong!  I can see the light at the end of the tunnel.  I cleaned like a crazy person for 3 days…did some cupboard organizing today but I took it easier and relaxed more today.  I’d say about 2 more partial days of cleaning and I’ll be all done.  The house feels and looks great!  The great thing is that our weather is warming up a bit too..so I’ll be able to open windows and air out things before I give the house a good smudging!  Then I can relax the rest of Winter and just snuggle in and enjoy it!

So as I was so busy working all week, we ate quick meals and picked up carry out a bit too many times this week.  I was in the mood for a good hot meal for me and my family.  So I turned to my very favorite comfort food…my meatloaf.  Which not to toot my own horn….is the best meatloaf and really the only meatloaf I like 🙂  I grew up on this meatloaf..though I have tweaked the recipe a bit from what my mom used to make.  There is no catsup in this recipe..at all!  That’s why I think it’s the best.  It makes it’s own gravy while cooking..a tomato gravy..that is made very simply with a can of tomato soup.  🙂  Now don’t wrinkle up your nose..give it a try.  I promise you will love it!  My hubby and I have a joke..about if you were going to have your last meal..what would you choose.  Well for me..this would be it..hands down!

Autumn’s Best Meatloaf with Tomato Gravy

2 lbs ground chuck

1 package of meat loaf seasoning..doesn’t matter which one..I use Krogers

1 cup quick cooking oatmeal

2 eggs

1/2 cup milk

1 Large can tomato soup

 

Preheat oven to 350*  Mix all ingredients except tomato soup together well.  (I use my hands!)  Form into a loaf and place in a casserole dish.  You can use an oval deep casserole dish or a 9″ x 13″ dish.  Pour the can of tomato soup over the loaf.  Bake in oven at 350* for 2 hours.  The last 30 mins or so I cover it loosely with foil to keep the soup from burning.  When you take it out of the oven, you may have to skim a bit of the soup that will have hardened during cooking.  Underneath there will be a delicious gravy that is made from the soup and the meat juices. 

 

I always make this with mashed potatoes (the gravy is delish on the potatoes too!), corn or green beans and whole wheat bread or rolls.  Obviously this is not a healthy dish..it is fattening, full of carbs and so so good!  Comfort food all the way.  Also, the meatloaf, if you have any left over, warms up wonderfully or makes great meatloaf sandwiches!

Comfort food…such lovely words.  It brings to mind cozy Sun days at home, by the fire, with a good movie or music or football game on.  It reminds me of my grandma’s house at dinner time and the love she spread at her table.  It makes me think all is right with the world.  It soothes..it comforts 🙂  I have many other comfort food recipes too..I’ll post them her and there over the Winter 🙂  Try this recipe and let me know if you like it!  Oh and for you health nuts..you might be able to do 1/2 ground turkey and 1/2 ground chuck.  I’ve not tried it that way but I’m sure it’d be great! 🙂 

 

“A recipe has no soul. You, as the cook, must bring soul to the recipe.”

~Thomas Keller

 

I’ll be back in a day or two with pics of my altar and a bit more about Imbolc.  I must say too..I’ve heard from many that they just don’t have the energy or the gumption or the will to do their Imbolc cleaning.  You know what….don’t worry one bit about that at all.  I have had that happen to me too..just couldn’t get into the cleaning until Spring actually got here.  That is perfectly ok..perfectly fine.  Celebrate Imbolc however you see fit.  Maybe all you want to do is smudge the house, light some candles and incense, or go out and eat. Maybe you just spend some time meditating, some altar work, or go outside and breathe in the fresh, cold air.   That is just fine!   Do what is right for you!  Always listen to what is in your heart and your mind.  You’ll never be wrong!  Have a good night..be safe..stay warm…and have comfort food!

Blessings and Love, Autumn

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Filed under Cleaning & Organizing, Family, Imbolc, My Favorite Things, My Writing, Photography, Quote, Recipe from my Kitchen, Winter

Imbolc Recipes 2011……

 

“To feel safe and warm on a cold wet night, all you really need is soup.”
Laurie Colwin

Merry Meet everyone!  How are your Imbolc preparations going?  I am in the midst of cleaning!  Drawers, cupboards and closets are getting organized one at a time.  Curtains are taken down, washed, sprayed with lavender water and hung back up smelling fabulous!  “Stuff” that is taking up space or not needed is heading to the thrift shop.  Dusting, cleaning woodwork, grabbing cobwebs off ceiling fans, and vacuuming furniture will all be done soon enough 🙂  Hoping for even some touch up painting to be done.  I have new candles to buy yet and I’m thinking about getting some new pots and pans as well.  I just love this time of year…Imbolc..Spring cleaning.  It feels great to get the house looking and feeling so nice. 

Now all this cleaning is tiring! As I’m sure you know!  Many nights I just want to melt into my easy chair by the fire and not move another inch!  I am most definitely not in the mood to cook after a long day of cleaning, running errands, and doing all the stuff that needs to be done every day!  So I was thinking about this and decided that instead of suggesting recipes to make FOR Imbolc, for the day…I would post recipes…soups and breads…that you can put on in the morning before you start cleaning, while you are preparing for Imbolc!   When you are ready, you can sit down to a good, comforting bowl of soup and slice of homemade bread….without slaving over the stove after a long day of cleaning!

“Good soup is one of the prime ingredients of good living. For soup can do more to lift the spirits

 and stimulate the appetite than any other one dish.”


Louis P. De Gouy, ‘The Soup Book’ (1949)

These recipes are soups I’ve made myself, or new recipes I’ve found I intend on making soon.  They use a slow cooker (or you can cook them on the stove top all day) and a bread machine!  Let’s face it..bread machines and slow cookers are going to make getting dinner ready super simple!!

This first recipe is another favorite potato soup recipe of mine.  This soup takes a little bit of work to make it cause you make it on the stovetop…but once made it can be kept warm in the slow cooker all day.

Baked Potato Soup

6 Potatoes

1/2 cup butter

1/3 cup flour

4 cups milk

1 cup sour cream

Pierce potatoes with a fork; microwave on high for about 20 mins, turning potatoes over halfway thru.  Peel and cube potatoes.  Mash 3 of the potatoes leaving 3 cubed and set aside. 

Whisk butter and flour in a saucepan over low heat until smooth and thick.  Whisk in milk and whisk until thickened.  Heat over med heat for 5-10 more minutes.  Be careful not to burn.  Add in the potatoes; stir in sour cream.  Simmer, without boiling until heated thoroughly.  Transfer to slow cooker and keep on low or warm all day.

*Serve this soup with a salad and bread for a complete meal.  Top with crumbled bacon and shredded cheese to make it extra yummy!  This is a really thick, satisfying soup!  *Serves 4-6

Wild Mushroom Soup

3 TB butter

2 large shallots, diced

1 1/2 pounds mixed wild mushrooms (such as cremini and shitake) sliced

1 TB chopped fresh thyme

3 TB flour

7 cups low sodium chicken broth

3/4 cup heavy cream

1/4 cup dry sherry (or use 1 cup heavy cream)

2 tsps salt

1/8 tsp black pepper

1/4 cup chopped parsley

Melt butter in a large lidded pot over med heat.  Add shallots and saute for 2-3 mins until softened.  Add mushrooms and thyme and cook 8 mins.  Sprinkle in flour and cook 2 mins, stirring constantly.  Add stock and bring to a boil.  Turn down to a simmer, cover and cook 15 mins.

Stir in heavy cream, sherry, salt and pepper and bring to a simmer (not boil).  Mix in parsley.

*Again, this can then be transferred and kept warm in a slow cooker for the day. 

Chicken Noodle Soup

3 carrots, peeled and cut into large chunks
1 large onion, quartered
3 stalks celery, cut into large chunks
3 boneless skinless chicken breast halves
2 to 3 soup cans of water
2 cans chicken broth
2 TBS dried dill
2 TBS dried parsley
1 tsp garlic powder
8 ounce package egg noodles

Put carrots, onion, and celery into crock pot.  Add the chicken, then pour in the broth and water. Sprinkle parsley, dill, and garlic on top.

 Cover and cook on low 6 – 8 hours.

 Remove chicken and vegetables from crock pot, add noodles and turn to high.  Dice the chicken and vegetables. Return vegetables and chicken to the crock pot for an additional 20 minutes.

This is so good for those days when someone in your house has a cold or flu.  Comfort food at it’s best!

Snowy Day Beef Stew

1 medium-size onion, finely chopped
2 medium-size carrots, cut into 1/4′ thick slanting slices
1 pound red potatoes, scrubbed and cut lengthwise into quarters
8 ounces mushrooms, sliced
2 to 2 1/4 pounds lean boneless beef round, trimmed of fat and cut into 1″ cubes
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 tsps dried thyme
1 can (about 14 1/2 oz.) stewed tomatoes
1/4 cup red wine or beef broth
1 package frozen peas, thawed
salt to taste

In a  slow cooker, combine onion, carrots, potatoes, and mushrooms. Coat beef cubes with flour, then add to cooker and sprinkle with thyme. Add tomatoes and wine. Cover and cook at low setting until beef is very tender when pierced (8 to 10 hours).
Skim and discard fat from stew, if necessary. Stir in peas. Increase cooker heat setting to high; cover and cook until peas are heated through (10 to 15 more minutes). Season to taste with salt. Makes 6 to 8 servings.

Cream of Chicken and Wild Rice Soup

 4 cups chicken broth
2 cups water
2-3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 package of Long grain and Wild Rice ( Rice-a-Roni)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup butter
2 cups milk
1 cup grated carrots
1 cup diced celery

Combine broth, water, carrots, celery, chicken and rice (along with seasoning packet) in a large slow cooker.
 Cover and cook on LOW for 4-6 hours.
Remove chicken and shred with two forks and then add back into slow cooker.

 In a small bowl combine salt, pepper, and flour. In medium saucepan over medium heat, melt butter. Stir in flour mixture by tablespoon to form a roux. Whisk in milk, a little at a time, until fully incorporated and smooth.
 Stir cream mixture into slow cooker and then let cook on LOW for 15 more minutes.

Beautiful soup, so rich and green
Waiting in a hot tureen!
Who for such dainties would not stoop?
Soup of the evening, beautiful soup!
Beautiful soup! Who cares for fish
Game, or any other dish?
Who would not give all else for two
Pennyworth of beautiful soup?”

Lewis Carroll, ‘Alice in Wonderland’

Again, all these soups are wonderful with a salad and a slice of fresh hot bread and creamy sweet butter!  Don’t forget toppings….crumbled bacon, grated cheeses, crackers, sour cream, croutons etc.  Ok…now on to a couple of my favorite bread machine bread recipes!  Be sure and follow YOUR bread machine’s guidelines for what order to put the ingredients..some put liquid in the bottom and dry and top and some do vice versa…Mine puts liquids in first….Oh and the recipe I’m putting here is for a 2 pound loaf.

One of my very favorite breads and it goes so great with the soups..or to make up into sandwiches on the side!  So so good!

Herb and Crunch Wheat Bread

1 1/2 cups water

2 cups bread flour

2 cups whole wheat flour

2 TBS sugar

2 TBS dry milk

2 TBS butter, softened

2 tsps salt

2 tsps dried basil leaves

1 tsp dried thyme leaves

2 tsps bread machine yeast

2/3 cup dry roasted sunflower seeds

Place all ingredients except the sunflower seeds in your bread machine pan, in the order recommended by YOUR bread machine.  You will add the sunflower seeds at the Raisin/Nut signal.

Select Basic/White cycle and Medium or Light crust color.  Remove from pan immediately when cycle is finished and cool on wire rack. 

I promise you will love this bread!!

“If thou tastest a crust of bread, thou tastest all the stars and all the heavens.”

Robert Browning, English poet, (1812-1889)

 

Parmesan Sun-Dried Tomato Bread

1 1/4 cups water

4 cups bread flour

3/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese

2 cloves crushed garlic

3 TBS sugar

1 1/4 tsps salt

2 1/4 tsps dried oregano leaves

2 1/4 tsps bread machine yeast

2/3 cup sun-dried tomatoes (packed in oil) drained and coarsely chopped

Place all ingredients, except tomatoes, in bread machine pan in order recommended by YOUR machine.  You’ll add the tomatoes at the Raisin/Nut signal.

Select Basic/White cycle. Use medium or light crust color.  Don’t use delay cycle with this bread.  Remove bread immediately after cycle is completed and cool on wire rack. 

“Good bread is the most fundamentally satisfying of all foods;

 and good bread with fresh butter, the greatest of feasts.”

James Beard, American chef (1903-1985)

 

So..think about how much your slow cooker and your bread machine can work for you…do your cooking in the morning when you are more energetic.  By evening, after a long day, you’ll be glad you did.  And OH the way it will make your house smell all day long…Yummy!!  You will be a happy little cleaning machine with those delicious soups simmering away and the smell of fresh bread permeating the house.  It will be a good “tonic” to help you keep your energy level up to get everything done you want to do!  Having a lazy day?  You’ll still be glad that you made your meal in the morning! It will aid you in your laziness LOL. 

Humm….I think tomorrow I will be baking that herb and crunch bread..just writing the recipe and thinking about it has made me want it..now!! 🙂   I’ll be back soon…pics of my altar to come etc.  I send you power energy and blessings to help you get thru all your cleaning and I hope you’ll send some to me! 

Blessings and love, Autumn

 

 

 

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Filed under Cleaning & Organizing, Imbolc, Poem, Quote, Recipe from my Kitchen