Category Archives: Cleaning & Organizing

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 

 

 

16 Comments

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

Countdown to Imbolc 2012…….

 

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

Merry Meet on this beautiful Sun day.  Hope your New Year is going well so far.  I have been sick with a virus that has had me down for some time now but I’m pulling up my bootstraps and telling myself I’m OVER it now 🙂  I do feel a bit better today and hope it continues.  As I’m having a quiet day I decided to post on my blog…about Imbolc….as I was making notes and lists to get ready for this wonderful Sabbat.  Imbolc has always been special to me because it was the first Sabbat that I celebrated.  It always feels hopeful and full of magick to me. 

As I am writing this, I’m sitting in my chair with the window cracked open, allowing the cool air to come in and cleanse out my house a bit.  Though it’s in the low 40’s here, the Sun is beautiful and warm and it feels a bit like a Spring day.  That’s what Imbolc is all about..the return of the Spring, the warmth, the Sun….Mother Earth re-awakening!  We have had a rare Winter so far here in Ohio.  Only one snow that amounted to anything, lots of days above normal temps and it’s been delightful!  But though I’m thinking about Spring already, we have much more Winter to go I’m quite sure 🙂 

 Imbolc, known also as Imbolg, Candlemas, the Festival of Brighid, and the Feast of Lights. The word Imbolc means “in the belly,” or in the womb of Mother Earth, as well as “in milk,” which refers to ewes coming into milk for the first lambs of the season. This Sabbat marks the return of spring, even as winter continues its reign. Imbolc is February 2nd and is of course, in modern times, also known as Groundhog’s Day.

Imbolc, for me,  is a time of cleansing and purification. It’s all about Spring Cleaning!  It is time to throw out the old and bring in the new. This not only means the “stuff and clutter” in your home, but also your old thoughts, anger, hurt feelings etc. To Sweep out negatitive and stagnant Air and bring in fresh, clean positive Air.   To re-new my home and myself. After a thorough Spring Cleaning on my home, I Cleanse and Bless my home and those who dwell here, and cleanse my body and my soul as well.   Imbolc is when I re-dedicate myself to my path every year.  Though it’s not necessary to do, it re-energizes and re-connects me to my path, my Goddess, my way of life.  

The customs of Imbolc include ritual “spring cleaning” of the house, to banish the last of winter and hasten the coming of warm, sunny days.  Some things I do while cleaning…..I  use lavender and rosemary in a pot of boiling water to wash floors and walls, vinegar and mugwort for windows and mirrors. Burn sage to cleanse the psychic energies, and replace old protection and prosperity charms. I wash all my curtains and linens and give them a good spritz with lavender water before re-hanging them.  I clean out drawers, closets, cupboards. Sweep high and low.  Replace burnt out light bulbs, anything that’s broken, throw out that is which is no longer of use or pleasure.  The house will smell and feel amazing when you’re done!  Oh, I like to replace all my old candles that may not be finished yet…just to have a fresh start! 

I also spend some time on myself.  Taking a ritual bath scented with your favorite herbs/oils or sea salt is always cleansing and renewing.  As you soak, meditate to clear your mind and heart of any thoughts or emotions that no longer serve you. This is all to “start a-new” in mind, body, spirit and home. Anoint your chakra points with Blessing oil after and spend some time meditating and focusing inward on yourself.  Let go what needs to go and open yourself to new possibilities, Joy, Peace and Love only.  Let the negative go and the positive take over.  You will feel so great afterwards.

On Imbolc Night, in ancient times, The Goddess Brighid was honored in her Maiden form.  One way to honor her is this.  Home hearth fires are put out and re-lit, and a besom is placed by the front door to symbolize sweeping out the old and welcoming the new. Candles are lit and placed in each room of the house to honor the re-birth of the Sun. Just before sunset, turn off all the lights in the house. Carrying  a single white burning candle,  to represent Brighid, knock three times on the front door and invite the Goddess to enter, asking that she bestow health, success, abundance, and love upon everyone in the house. Then slowly begin turning on the lights, moving room to room, until every light in the house is on.  This is really magickal to me..symbolizes the Darkness of Winter changing to the Light of Spring.  If you have made a Brighid cross, have it on your altar or hanging near your front door or fireplace to represent Her as well. 

Imbolc Correspondences

*Element/Gender-Earth/female

*Threshold- Midnight

*Symbolism-First stirring of Mother Earth, lambing, growth of the Sun God, the middle of winter, Purity, Re-newal, Fertility, dispensing of old and making way for the new

*Symbols/Tools/Decorations-Brighid’s Crosses, Brideo’gas, Besoms, white flowers, acorn wands, candles, Brides bed, milk, evergreens, daffodils, grain/seeds, snowflakes

*Herbs-Angelica, basil, bay laurel, blackberry, heather, iris, myrrh, violets, clover, willow, and all yellow flowers.

*Incense/Oils-Basil, bay, wisteria, cinnamon, violet, vanilla, myrrh, jasmine, rose, sage lavender,

*Colors-Gold, light green, green, blue, yellow, pink, white, red, brown and pastels

*Crystals/Stones-Amethyst, bloodstone, garnet, ruby, turquoise, onyx, moonstone, red jasper

*Customs/Activities-Candle lighting, seeking omens of spring, cleaning house, bonfires, indoor planting, stone collecting, hearth re-lighting, storytelling

*Foods-Pumpkin, sesame and sunflower seeds, spicy foods, dairy, raisins, poppyseed bread/cakes, muffins, scones, breads, pancakes/waffles, spiced wines, herbal teas

*Gods- Pan, Cupid/Eros, young Sun Gods

*Goddesses- Brighid, Venus, Diana, Virgin Goddess, Maiden Child Goddess, Aradia, Athena, Inanna, Vesta, Gaia, Selene, Februa

*Spellworking/Rituals-Cleansing, purification, renewal, creative inspiration, purification, initiation, candle work, house & temple blessings, welcoming Brigid, feast of milk and bread, Self-dedication

To aid you in your house cleansing, here is a ritual I love to do after all the Cleaning is done….

Imbolc House Cleansing Ritual

-Light a smudge stick and walk around the rooms of your house to replace old protection and prosperity. I smudge around all my windows and door and throw them open to allow in the fresh, cold Air!  You can also go around with a representative of each element…salt, incense or sage, a lit candle etc….or you can use a Blessing oil and anoint your doors and windowsills with a pentagram or sigil of protection.  While you are doing so, say something like:

“May the goddess bless this home

make it safe and secure

so that nothing but love and joy

shall enter here.

When you are finished with every room, close the windows, step back and take a deep breath.  Feels good doesn’t it? I usually do this House Blessing…then light all the candles and turn off lights and welcome in Brighid as written above.  Then I sit with a nice glass of Bailey’s or Wine and enjoy the feel of my Clean, Cleansed and Blessed home!  I’m ready to deal with the rest of Winter and my heart knows that Spring will be here soon!

Winter, a lingering season, is a time to gather golden moments, embark upon a sentimental journey,

 and enjoy every idle hour.”

 

– John Boswell

During this next couple months when we can only dream of Spring and our gardens, being outside.  Do that…Dream!  Pore over your garden catalogs and magazines and dream of planting your gardens, herbs, veggies.  It’ll do you heart some good.   Thats what I will be doing too.  I have big plans this year to expand my gardens 🙂

In winter’s cold and sparkling snow,
The garden in my mind does grow.
I look outside to blinding white,
And see my tulips blooming bright.
And over there a sweet carnation,
Softly scents my imagination.

On this cold and freezing day,
The Russian sage does gently sway,
And miniature roses perfume the air,
I can see them blooming there.
Though days are short, my vision’s clear.
And through the snow, the buds appear.

In my mind, clematis climbs,
And morning glories do entwine.
Woodland phlox and scarlet pinks,
Replace the frost, if I just blink.
My inner eye sees past the snow.
And in my mind, my garden grows.”
– Cheryl Magic-Lady, Winter Garden

I will post more about my altar and my Imbolc celebration in the coming days. If you haven’t already started thinking about this beautiful Sabbat, then do. There is alot of work involved with this one. The clearing out of the old is not for the faint of heart! LOL Be brutal in both your home and yourself! Really clear out the stuff that needs to go. You will feel so much better about your home and you will feel lighter and happier with yourself as well. Spring is coming and I know that makes many of your heart’s soar!! Start it out with a clean, uncluttered great smelling home and a clean slate full of positivity, lightness and joy for yourself! The Magick of Imbolc is upon us!

Oh, tonight is the Full Wolf or Cold Moon.  Her energy is amazing as I visited with Her last night and will again tonight.  Doing some healing work for myself and some friends of mine, making Moon water, cleansing and energizing some new crystals, tools etc.  Blessed Full Wolf Moon to you all!  Make the Most of your time with Her!

 

Blessed Be, Autumn

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Filed under Cleaning & Organizing, Correspondence, Full Moons, Gardens, Goddess, Herbs, History, Holiday, Imbolc, Mother Earth, My Writing, Nature, Poem, Protection, Quote, Ritual, Seasons, Spring, Winter

More Cleaning and a Sweet Treat………

Merry Meet friends!  Hope that you are all having a great week.  It is bitterly  cold here in Ohio..negative temps this morning and negative wind chill factor!  BRRRRR!  The good news is that the Sun came out today and that warmed up everything despite the cold 🙂  I was able also to see the quarter Moon last night and She was beautiful!  The sky was black as ink…twinkling stars…and the Moon was bright and misty, a beautiful sight.  Despite the cold I had to have a visit…I threw a blanket around me and went out and visited with Her..it was magickal indeed.  Even if it was for a short time 🙂 

So today I was home and had some time to get back to some of my Spring Cleaning..which is almost done.  I have enjoyed doing that so much.  I did my kitchen buffet, a tv stand, under my bathroom sink, and my bedside stand.  Here’s some before and afters….:)

Buffet before…..

And after………..

Bathroom sink before……………

Bathroom Sink After……..

I won’t bore you with the other pics, this is enough. LOL!   But I post the pics to inspire..as I was inspired by my daughters blog and her work! 🙂  I only have my linen closet left to do….that will be for another day when I have more time.  I really want to paint it…a gorgeous blue..just for fun! To open the door and see something besided white walls, so I may not post before and afters until I have time to paint it!  There is a couple of drawers in my dresser that need a bit of attention, but really, the most of it is done.  Yay!  The house just feels so much better and when I open a door or a drawer I just can’t  help but smile out how they look.  Go for it if you haven’t already…the work is worth it!

So Valentine’s Day is coming up and I thought I’d share a recipe with you.  This recipe is actually on my Gooseberry Patch calendar for February’s page.  I am making these this weekend, I think, so I thought that you might like to make them too.

Raspberry Swirled Brownies

1/2 cup butter, softened

1 cup sugar

16-oz can chocolate syrup

4 eggs, beaten

1 and 1/2 cup all-purpose flour

3-oz pkg. cream cheese, softened

2/3 cup raspberry preserves

1 cup unsweetened raspberries

Garnish:  whipped cream, fresh raspberries

In a bowl, mix butter and sugar until smooth. Add chocolate syrup and eggs; mix well.  Add flour; mix well. Beat in cream cheese and preserves until smooth; gently fold raspberries into the batter.  Spread in a greased 15″ x 10″ jelly-roll pan.

Bake at 350* for 30-35 minutes.  Cut into squares.  Garnish with whipped cream and raspberries if desired.  Makes 2-1/2 dozen.

Sounds delicious doesnt’ it!  Can’t wait to make them!

So Valentine’s Day is such a fun holiday.  Yes, I know its a romantic holiday..made for lovers and spouses.  Flowers, candy, romantic dinners.  That all sounds lovely indeed.  But for me and my family, well it is all about fun with the kids!  Making construction paper valentines, heart shaped cookies with icing and red sugar sprinkles, heart shaped pancakes or PB&J sandwiches.  Cutting out paper heart chains to hang in their rooms.  Stuffed red teddy bears, chocolate marshmallow heart candy.  It just doesn’t get any more fun then that.  Remember the excitement of trading valentine cards…the little cheap cartoon ones..making your “mailbox”.  It was a big day for sure.  Keep this in mind with your children or grandchildren…it’s something you never outgrow!  I did it with my kids and now I get to enjoy it with my little Lily.  I love sending her cards and stickers in the mail..she loves getting mail!  Every holiday can be made special with just a little bit of effort. Put a little magick into all you day and the day will be special for your loved ones..you will have made a memory!

When I think of love …

I think of roses and red hearts …

quiet walks …

and very soft, tranquil music …

I envision an eagle taking flight on a crisp fall morn …

the first snowflake in the winter …

and the sound of the first robin in the spring …

I envision a glorious sunrise …

a spectacular rainbow …

and stars brightly shining on a summer night …

But most of all, I envision you …

your eyes radiating warmth, joy and vibrance …

and the tender feelings in my heart

from your friendly smile.

Author Unknown

 

Much love and light to you all, Autumn

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Filed under Cleaning & Organizing, Family, Photography, Poem, Recipe from my Kitchen

Day 7…My Pantry….

Merry Meet my friends.  Hope this Thor’s Day finds you safe and warm and happy!  If you are in the East of the USA I know you are getting walloped with snow and have been for a few days.  We still have snow on the ground but you can see grass peaking thru now…however we have fresh snow coming this evening, but only about an inch or so.  Our weather hasn’t been too bad as far as being cold, but it has been very gloomy..no sunshine for a few days.  Though I love Winter, I love it more when the sun is shining! 🙂

So, today was a stay at home day for me.  I took advantage of it to get my pantry cleaned and organized…Day 7 of my 14 days of cleaning.  My pantry is lovely.  Its a nice size with great shelves and a pegboard but I haven’t given it a good cleaning for a while now.  So I rolled up my sleeves, put on some great witchy music (more about that later) and boogied my way into that little closet and got busy.  I had picked up some storage containers in pretty colors and they came in very handy as well.  So here are the before and afters……

Before……

After……………..

Before………

After…………….

Before………..

After………………

Big improvement!  Now this job took me about 2 hours really…but that was because I went thru every can and box etc checking expiration dates..you would be surprised how old stuff creeps to the back of the canned goods LOL.  It also took me a little time to decide what I wanted on what shelf…but I’m very happy with the outcome.  Good thing the trash pick up is tomorrow as well…4 bags of trash!  I also have a dozen or so items to go to Goodwill and a couple of things I’m passing on to others.  So….another day of cleaning done and I still have the evening to enjoy reading, crocheting, relaxing…while feeling that I got something BIG accomplished.

Now as I had said earlier, I put on my “Witchy” music while I was working.  I have an Ipod and I have a playlist that is nothing but music that I feel inspires me, or is actually sung by Pagans/Witches or by artist I think MIGHT be witchy! 😉  Some of these artists are Inkubus Sukkubus (one of my favs), Loreena McKennitt (Another favorite), Enya, Evanescense, Within Temptation, Wendy Rule, Kelliana (who I just discoverd and love) Jenna Greene (Hi Jenna!), Lisa Thiel, SJ Tucker, Celia, …and some instrumental music.  Of course the soundtrack to Practical Magic and some Stevie Nicks as well!!  There is Nightwish, Blackmore’s Night.  I am always looking for more, so if you love someone I’ve missed..please let me know!  There are others on my list I can’t think of right now as well I’m sure.  I love the pretty music and I love the music that makes me get up and dance!!  The more upbeat the better when I’m cleaning too.

So tomorrow, I’m going to tackle something simple as I won’t be home part of the day.  Oh yes, I also redecorated  our guest bathroom just for fun.  My hubby has kind of taken over it, so I “manned” it up a little bit for him 😀   Got rid of the flowered shower curtain..brought in earthier colors…he’s going to be very surprised! 

I am planning on picking up a potted bulb flower ..hopefully a daffodil or tulip in yellow.  My Imbolc altar is finished other then that..and of course the “cakes and ale” which always comes to the altar the day of.  I will post pics and talk a bit about why I chose what I did to place on it.  Imbolc, in case you didn’t  know yet, is also the New Moon…so the magick will be strong.  I wish you all a wonderful evening..Be safe, stay warm.  May the Goddess wrap Her arms around you in love and may you feel the comfort She brings.  Curl up with a blanket, a fire, a good book..relax!

Blessings and Love, Autumn

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Filed under Cleaning & Organizing, Music, My Favorite Things, Photography

Day 4…..more cleaning!

Good evening lovelies!  I had a nice day today…very busy and productive as well.  I had some errands to run this morning and I hit Target and got new bright green storage containers and some new olive oil/vegetable oil bottles for my stovetop.  I bought fresh oils…organic of course..and filled them and they look great!  The storage containers will be used in different areas..some I used today, the rest will be used in my linen closet when I get to it.  I sure hope you all aren’t getting bored with my cleaning posts.  Blogging about it and posting pics is part of the program my daughter is doing and I want to do it as well..and its sooooo motivating for me seeing the before and afters pics. 

So today, all my work was in my kitchen. I had planned to do under my sink and a drawer but ended up doing quite a bit more..took me about 40 minutes maybe.  So here are the pics..they speak for themselves.

After….

Before……

After……

Before…..under kitchen sink….

After……

Before……medicine drawer…..

After……

Before…..baking drawer….

After……….

I actually did my dishtowel drawer and a cupboard where I keep my teas, seasonings etc…but didn’t take pics so as not to bore everybody…so I was pretty productive today.  I also wiped down the fronts of all the cabinets and of course wiped them all out.  As I said, this took me about 45 minutes..and I just love opening the drawers and seeing how great everything looks.  I’ve never had super messy drawers and I’m pretty good about cleaning them out..here and there…but doing this project has been great and getting so much done at once is great!  I’ll be so ready for Imbolc very soon! 🙂

I have to show this pic as well…this is my kitty Jasper…now you will have met both of my beautiful fur babies…..

We adopted Jasper from a humane society about 6 1/2 years ago…Harley and Jasper are good friends, play hard at night, and love to hang out in my altar room when I’m working there..which I love!  They also love to stay close to us and they lay on my daughter Sara’s bed with her very often..which she loves.  I love dogs too though we have lost both of our dogs now..at the age of 15 and 13.  But I have to admit that I feel such an affinity with cats..and I’d have more if my hubby would let me 🙂  I’m working on that! LOL

Today I recieved another witchy book in the mail I had ordered recently…Doreen Valiente’s “An ABC of Witchcraft”…I have not read any of her books yet and I’m anxious to dive into it!  I had to buy it used..but its in great shape..has that good old book smell! 🙂  One of the things I’m going to be adding to my blog is book reviews.  As I finish a book, witchy or otherwise, I’ll talk about it here.  (Thanks for the idea Owl and Tracy!) I think one of the things that all witches and pagans have in common…is that we all love to read and learn.  We all love books and knowledge.   If you quit reading and learning, or think you “know” it all and don’t need to read anymore..well, in my opinion, you stop growing.  So I plan on reading as long as there are books out there I haven’t read! LOL

The love of learning, the sequestered nooks,
And all the sweet serenity of books.
~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

 

Thanks for putting up with my cleaning pictures…I won’t post them everyday…I promise!

Blessings and Love, Autumn

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Filed under Books I'm reading, Cleaning & Organizing, Photography, Quote

Days 2 & 3 Cleaning & some of my books………

Merry Meet everybody!  Hope that you have all had a nice weekend.  It is VERY cold here…negative chill factors, high of 15* but it’s been sunny and I have been enjoying seeing the Moon Goddess the last few nights.  Yesterday I worked on my Book of Shadows and my sister was here and helped Sara work on hers as well.  I love working on it, seeing all the information I’ve collected for years coming together to make something I not only will enjoy having and using, but can pass down to my daughters and grandchildren.  Soon I’ll post a few pics here and talk about how I have gone about doing my BOS.  Today, my hubby and I had breakfast out, bought stone tile to redo our shower, grocery and then home for football and hanging by the fire.

Yesterday, I was having so much fun working on my BOS I did not get any of my 14 days of cleaning and organizing done.  So today I did double duty! 🙂 I started with a kitchen cabinet that had everything from recipe boxes to supplies for making my herbal remedies.  Here’s the before pic……

Sorry about the blurriness..not sure why.  This was fairly easy to clean up..but where was I going to put my herbal supplies?  Here’s what it looked like after….

LOL  this is my kitty Harley..a stray that came to our back door about 6 years ago..and stayed 🙂  She thinks it looks good.  I have room for more stuff now!  I took all of the herbal remedy supplies and put them in the space in another cabinet I had cleared some time ago for that purpose..looks like this:

Hummm got room for more supplies too 🙂  Next I cleaned out a drawer in my parlor coffee table..I had to find some place to put all the pretty papers I use in my BOS, and my granddaughter Lily’s coloring books and crayons.  Before:

Afterwards:

Ok..these were all pretty simple.  Now, I was on a roll so I tackled our entertainment center in the parlor.  This cabinet has our tv and other components, but it has these great hidden shelves where I keep my printer, printer paper, and lately..I have been shoving my witchy books in there too..the ones I’m studying from, the ones that are new and I haven’t read yet, and the ones that I refer to often.  Here’s the cabinet before..its bad  LOL..

I am almost embarassed to show that…really bad.  But I worked on it and came up with the idea of doing away with the CD racks on the 2 shelves on the left and turned them into flat shelves that would pull out….Perfect for holding my printer and easy access.  Here is the after:

I am sooo pleased with this job.  Before I go on to talking about my books a bit..if I know all you witches out there..you want to see what books I have..Right?  LOL  I am that way, always scouring peoples bookshelves..even the ones in pictures.   Anyway, this 14 days of cleaning is coinciding with my daughter Kate’s blog and I wanted to participate …but I am reaping so many benefits from it.  A feeling of accomplishment, drawers and cupboards I don’t mind if somebody looks into..and I’m getting my house in order for Imbolc cleaning!  I also am getting rid of junk!  Taking things out of here that aren’t needed, used, loved..well its a good thing.  I take them to goodwill where it becomes someone elses treasured find!  It really only takes a few minutes to do this…a drawer or two, a cupboard, a closet…and by the end of 2 weeks..I am going to throw open everything, give it a good smudge, and I am ready for Imbolc! 🙂  You should think about doing it too..you won’t be sorry.

Ok..here are some pics of my books:

What do you think?  Pretty good books huh!  I can’t wait to read all of the ones I haven’t yet.  This is not all of them either..I have two shelves full in my bedroom as well…ones I have read..well mostly!  These are more of the newer ones I’ve gotten recently or the ones I’m studying from..like the runes and the tarot books.  I love when I get a new pagan book or discover a new author and I often ask the question on my facebook page..what are you reading?  To get great ideas for books I need to read.  I keep a list in a notebook and refer to it often.  I also visit our half price bookstore for some on my list at great prices.  I have always loved to read, but I especially love to read while I’m LEARNING!!  Its just the best thing ever!

So after all my great cleaning and cooking and busyness today..I’m going to curl up by the fire with one of these books……and read.

Blessings and light, Autumn

*Sorry about all the pics but I’m working on learning how great my new camera is too…LOL

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Filed under Books I'm reading, Cleaning & Organizing, Imbolc

Day One of 14 Days of Organization…….

Merry Meet friends!  Today the sun came out and the skies cleared up and the snow is shimmering..it’s just a beautiful day but very very cold!  Tonight I should be able to finally see the Wolf Moon just in time before she starts waning.  I’m so glad!  I could really use the connection and seeing her makes it so much better! 🙂 

My daughter Kate writes two blogs..both of which are linked to my blog.  Just Chasing Moonbeams is her witchy blog, Living the Vintage Life is her non-witchy blog…you know……muggle friendly! 🙂  On her Vintage Life she has started a wonderful idea….of organizing your home in 14 days.  Here is the link so you can read about it………

http://livingthevintagelife.wordpress.com/

I have decided to participate..basically you clean out drawers, cupboards, closets, bookshelves ..whatever needs done.  You take before pics of your daily project..then  pitch what needs to be pitched, give away what you don’t want, and organize what you keep.  You should pick one closet, a couple of drawers or a cupboard or two each day.  Then take an after picture to show how great it looks!  I love this idea…makes me look forward to seeing the great results. AND…it helps me to get ready for Imbolc!  Imbolc is all about cleaning and getting rid of the old junky stuff!   Be brutal in what you get rid of…if it isn’t useful anymore, or you haven’t used it or worn it in a year..its time for it to go!! 

So today I decided to clean out the 3 drawers in my foyer dresser.  Now this took me all of 15 minutes…I pulled a trash can right up to me, pulled out the sweeper to sweep out the crumbs and got busy.  Here are the before and afters for each drawer……

Drawer #2

Drawer #3

Looks great doesnt’ it??   I decided that as that had gone so fast I would do one more quick thing…right around the corner, a cupboard that was a real mess..had everything from river rocks to soap making supplies…time to clean it up!

There….much better!  I need to get a small plastic basket to put the oils for the soap making supplies into…and a long flat basket to put my taper candles in…but otherwise, I’m happy with my work.  I took me about 20 minutes in all…easy peasy.  Humm ..wonder what to do tomorrow??  I’ll be back and continue to shoe my progress!

If you want to follow along, feel free.  Take your own pics and past them into a spiral notebook or post them on your corkboard or refrigerator.  It’ll inspire you to keep going!  Happy Cleaning! 

*I apologize for the small pics….but the bigger ones didnt’ fit on the page!  LOL  Get out your magnifying glass! 🙂

Blessings, Autumn

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