Category Archives: Family

The Wheel Turns to Lughnasadh 2016……

 

IMG_5855Merry Meet my friends.  I know…you are probably thinking..where have you been?  I know I know!  I’ve been very neglectful of my blog and I’m sorry.  I could tell you everything that has been going on in my life…..but frankly, there’s so much going on in the World these days..it would just sound like petty reasons. I have missed writing but at the same time I tossed around the idea of not writing here for a while.  I guess I accomplished that…a needed break.  But I’m back I think and look forward to writing here again.  I thank you for your patience..if you have indeed been wondering 🙂

I HAVE been busy …as many of you have been, I know.  My gardens are keeping me happily busy….planting, mulching, weeding, watering, thinning, deadheading etc etc. ….but I find that a lovely chore 🙂  My in-laws have moved from California to be near us, as my FIL is developing dementia and my MIL requires more help.  This has been a challenge I won’t go into, but we are managing to the best of our ability.  I’ve been still recovering from two surgeries in February that rocked my world too.  Suffice to say that I don’t think I’m going to get back all the way to where I was, but I’m doing as good as it gets lol.  Nothing serious, just irritation stuff.  I have a lot of irons in the fire, and that is why, mainly, that I haven’t written.  It was just an iron I let go for a while.

Let’s see, I haven’t written since Ostara.  Wow.  So I missed Beltane and Midsummer postings but to my delight, I see that many have still come to read my posts and snatch up some of my recipes etc.  I’m glad!  There is some great info there in the last 6-7 years.  I plan to continue sharing recipes as those seem to be my most popular posts.

Now, we are moving quickly toward Lughnasadh or Lammas on August 1st. I so love this Sabbat as it’s that first sign that my favorite season, Autumn, is coming fast!  The first Harvest festival! It’s been so hot here lately with way more high temps coming yet, that it especially makes me long for cool, crisp days and knowing they are coming soon makes me happy!  I have already been perusing recipes..mostly recipes for breads, fresh veggies, canning, and uses for my herbs in oils and vinegars.

Many of us are harvesting yummy produce from our own garden beds.  Red tomatoes, green peppers, peas, beans, zucchini, squash, melons etc etc.  Also, I don’t know about you, but I’ve harvested some of my herbs more than once already!  Big bundles of lemon balm, fever few, catnip, oregano, mint, parsley, sage etc are hanging and scenting my kitchen in a lovely way.  My coven sisters have benefitted a bundle or two as well 🙂  For those who don’t have big gardens of veggies, like me, a farmer’s market is the perfect place to stock up!  They are abundant around your town I’m sure and farm stands dot the corners as well.  Be sure to indulge yourself this time of year.

I have already made a couple of new recipes I’d like to share.  One is for a simple yummy bread that I’m now calling biscuit bread!  The other, a delicious cheese-filled mushroom appetizer, however, it would make a lovely light lunch too.  I think you’ll like them!

 

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Butter Crust Beer Bread

2 cups self-rising flour

3 Tbs sugar

12 oz regular beer (not light)

1/4 cup butter, melted

 

Preheat oven to 350* In a bowl, mix flour, sugar and beer until well blended and a sticky dough forms, about one minute.  Spoon dough into a greased 8″x 5″ loaf pan. Bake at 350* for 30 minutes.  Remove from oven; pour melted butter over the top. Return to oven and bake 30 minutes more, until lightly golden. Cool bread in pan before removing.

 

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Cheesy Mushroom Caps

8 oz pkg cream cheese, softened

1 cup grated Parmesan Cheese (the good stuff, not shaker)

1/4 cup whipping cream

1/2 tsp garlic salt

24 large mushrooms, stems removed and cleaned (I used baby portabello)

1/2 cup butter, melted.

Preheat oven to 350*  In a bowl, combine cheeses, whipping cream and garlic salt; blend well.  Fill mushroom caps with mixture.  Dip bottom of mushrooms in melted butter and place on an ungreased baking sheet.  Bake at 350* for 15 minutes.

*The cheese mixture would fill more than 24 of the baby portabellos.  If you use a larger mushroom, it may fill less than 24.

Enjoy!!

I have put together for the most part my Lughnasadh altar.  The harvest altars are always my favorite to do.  I love the warm colors of browns, golds, rusts, reds, and oranges.  This is my altar this year. 🙂

 

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Lughnasadh or Lammas is all about the last days of Summer, the coming of Autumn, the first harvests, the days shortening, and a reminder for us to appreciate the warmth of the Sun, while it may be too hot some days to be out under that same Sun.  Our ancestors had more to do and worry about…putting “up” food for the winter, praying that Mother Earth, the Goddesses and Gods smiled on their crops and brought abundant enough food for them to survive the long, cold Winter. A good crop and storing said crops was hard work and meant life or death!  For us, putting “up” food perhaps reminds us of our grandmothers or mothers who fantastically canned tomatoes, sauces, veggies, jams/jellies, pickles etc and filled their pantry with colorful jars all in a row.  I sure have memories of my grandmother, in her ever constant apron, doing just that…with grandchildren underfoot trying to help and learn.  To this day, I still like to do some canning…..even if it’s just apple butter or strawberry jam.  It’s lovely sitting on the shelf, to pull out in the middle of a cold Winter day , and slather onto a piece of homemade, hot bread.  Sigh..so good.

Don’t forget to use your fresh herbs to make lovely flavored oils and vinegars.  Baking bread is a big part of Lammas/Lughnasadh as well.  Watch the sunrise or set, sit under a tree and watch the Sun dapple through the trees.  Garden and feel the warmth on your back.  Have a picnic with your family.  Take a walk and enjoy the brilliant flowers in full glory. Heck…even play Pokemon Go if you want…just be sure that you’re walking to catch those little monsters and enjoying being outdoors.  There will come a time when you’ll be indoors watching it snow and you’ll be glad you enjoyed that warm Sun!

Blessed Lughnasadh my friends.  May the Sun warm you. Oh and Blessed Full Moon too!  May She shine on you also. Also, if I may say a word, in this very angry, sad world we seem to be living in right now…..open your heart to others, spread love, be kind…don’t judge.  Be part of the cure, not the problem.  We are all just here to live our lives, in our way, with respect and love for others.  Blessed Be.

“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, August’s Crown-

 

Blessings and Love,

Autumn

 

 

 

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Filed under Altars, Autumn, Family, Flowers, Full Moons, Gardens, God, Goddess, Herbs, Holiday, Lammas/Lughnassadh, Midsummer, Mother Earth, My Favorite Things, My Writing, Nature, Ostara, Pagan, Photography, Quote, Recipe from my Kitchen, recipes, Sabbat, Seasons, Summer, Sun, Sunrise/Sunset, Uncategorized, Witch

The Wheel Turns to Ostara 2016……..

IMG_0857Merry Meet my friends!  I have been terribly re-miss on writing here in my blog and I’ll tell you why shortly.  It’s a cloudy day, and warmish, hitting 60* right now.  Earlier the Sun was out and there was a gorgeous crescent Moon last night to enjoy and draw energy from 🙂  Rain is coming in later..which we DON’T need!  Our backyard is flooded!  But there are signs of Spring everywhere in our yard.  From the animal and bird activities, to the greening of the grass, and the shoots popping up out of the ground from lots of our flowers and herbs! I love it!

First of all, I want to say thank you so much for being a reader and a friend of this blog.  I just celebrated my 6th year writing here. I started out thinking it would be a way for me to keep a journal of sorts.  But it evolved into something more over time.  I have had over 207,000 views and nearly 780 followers.  It’s amazing to me that anything I have to say is of interest to people.  And yet, it seems some are interested and I really appreciate it 🙂  I keep it mostly because I enjoy writing, and I enjoy sharing, and I enjoy learning too.  So thank you very much!  I hope my readers continue to enjoy what I write.

Secondly, I have had a rough few weeks.  I had surgery on Feb 1 as I believe I talked about a bit in my previous posts.  That surgery was a nightmare.  It did not go well.  Something I won’t go into was done in a way that a nerve was damaged.  I was in extreme pain..I mean truly excruiciating with no relief except when I laid perfectly still.  Long story short, a week later I was in the OR again having that fixed.  The excruciating pain was relieved mostly, but the pain of two surgeries is just now starting to alleviate.  I’m told to expect another month or so to feel normal again.  I am glad that the original health issue is fixed…but it’s been a heck of a recovery.  Funny..I told myself while I was laid up, I’d be reading, writing, and working on a couple projects. But I found it was hard to focus on all of those things.  Thus, the lack of writing here in my blog.  But I’m reading and journaling and yes, now writing here too now.  Thank you for your patience!

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There is much going on! Ostara is next Sunday!  I’m blessed that a dear Witch sister is coming to stay with me for a few days.  Deb has been a friend for years now but she lives in SC and we have only met face to face once..and that was way to brief of a time and quite some time ago.  We talk on the phone all the time and I look forward to having her within hugging range for a change. 🙂  My coven will gather for Ostara Sunday morning and she will be here for that as well. Everyone is looking forward to meeting their long- distance sister! We will do a ritual, have brunch and a fire. It will be magickal and filled with love!  Breakfast casserole, muffins and pastries, fruit salad, coffee and juices are on the menu.  Yum!

For Ostara, we often meet in the morning as I love greeting the Sun with a toast.  After all, Ostara is the return of Spring, the return of longer days, of warmth, and green and flowers and leafed out trees.  Mother Earth awakens! Now, I live in Ohio….and we’ve been pretty warm and Spring-like lately. But snow could come back anytime yet lol.  Yesterday, I took a stroll around the yard and discovered lots of my plants and herbs blooming green shoots!  It’s early for sure, but wonderful!  One thing I did do while laid up, was flip thru garden catalogs and magazines, and I have lots of plans to add to our flower beds. We’ll be adding new plants, thinning some, moving some etc.  We’ll be planting new trees, flowering bushes and new flowers to fill new beds.  I so can’t wait!  Right now, all I can do is look.  I’m not healed up enough yet to clean up the beds etc….but I got my hands dirty a bit yesterday and it made me smile.  There is nothing more grounding than digging in the dirt 🙂

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My Spring cleaning was delayed due to the surgeries, but I had worked very hard on serious purging and organizing beforehand.  I’ve started back up again the last day or two.  I’m down to one cupboard, one closet and a couple kitchen cupboards to go thru yet.  It feels so great to do this.  Purging unwanted, unneeded, and unused items is very freeing 🙂  It won’t be long and my clothesline will be up again, and clothes, linens and so on will be flapping in the sun and wind! I love that!

I’m going to go ahead and post a couple of recipes for Ostara, since it’s here so fast!  I’m going to be very busy this next week getting ready for our gathering and for my dear company coming, so I’m not sure I’ll be back to write until after.  Foods for Ostara are: Leafy green vegetables,  sunflower and pine nuts, dairy,  fish, hot crossed buns, sweet breads, hard boiled eggs or eggs fixed any way,  honey cakes, and seasonal fruits.  Here’s a couple recipes that should fit right in there!

 

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Rich and Moist Honey Cake

 

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 1⁄2 teaspoons baking powder
1⁄4 teaspoon salt
1⁄2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon orange zest
3⁄4 cup butter
3⁄4 cup white sugar
3 eggs
1⁄4 cup milk
1 cup chopped walnuts

Honey Sauce
1 cup white sugar
1 cup honey
3⁄4 cup water
1 teaspoon lemon juice

Preheat oven to 350*  Grease and flour a 9 inch square pan. Combine the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and orange zest. Set aside.

In a large bowl, cream together the butter and 3/4 cup sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time. Beat in the flour mixture alternately with the milk, mixing just until incorporated. Stir in the walnuts.
Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake in the preheated oven for 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Allow to cool for 15 minutes.  Cut cake then Pour honey syrup over the cake.
For the Honey Syrup: In a saucepan, combine honey, 1 cup sugar and water. Bring to a simmer and cook 5 minutes. Stir in lemon juice, bring to a boil and cook for 2 minutes.

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Bacon Spinach Quiche

4 eggs
2 cups milk
1-1/4 cups shredded cheddar cheese, divided
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
4 bacon strips, cooked and crumbled
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground mustard
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1 package (10 ounces) frozen chopped spinach, cooked and drained
1 unbaked pastry shell (9 inches)

Preheat oven to 400*

In a large bowl, beat eggs; whisk in milk, 1 cup cheese, onion, bacon, salt, mustard and paprika. Add spinach.

Pour into pie shell.

Sprinkle with the remaining cheese. Bake at 400° for 40 minutes

Yield: 6 servings.

 

There you go…something sweet and something savory 🙂  Enjoy!

 

I want to wish you all a very happy Ostara….happy Spring…..and have a great week!  Oh, Happy Irish Day as well this week!  It’s a fun week for seeing green…whether it be in your garden beds, or your Irish showing!  Slainte!!

 

Oh, Spring is surely coming,
Her couriers fill the air;
Each morn are new arrivals,
Each night her ways prepare;
I scent her fragrant garments,
Her foot is on the stair.
~John Burroughs, “A March Glee”

 

Love and Blessings

Autumn

 

 

 

 

 

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Winter Love……..

Winter is the slow-down
Winter is the search for self
Winter gives the silence you need to listen
Winter goes gray so you can see your own colors…
~Terri Guillemets

 

Merry Meet my friends! How is your New Year going so far?  Is it Winter where you are?  Winter was very slow arriving here in Ohio!  We had crazy warm weather, to the point that plants were re-blooming, grass was green and birds and squirrels were very content to enjoy an extended warm season for gathering.  We had only seen one day of snow flurries in late December…I mean come on!!  🙂  However, finally Winter had arrived with snow and frigid cold and blowing winds and I’m a very happy Witch!  We haven’t had a huge amount of snow, but we did have some accumulation that looked like this:

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Then we warmed up, got rain and washed it all away.  Today, the cold came back and it flurried very prettily.  I love Sundays as many of you who know me, know.  But add snow flurries, the need for a fire in the fireplace, no need to go anywhere, a project to do, something simmering on the stove….and it’s really a Perfect day!!

I’ve been very busy doing my Imbolc cleaning which also involves major purging of unwanted and unneeded items.  It feels so good to see all that “stuff” going out of the house!  I take one room at at a time.  Empty drawers, cupboards, cabinets, closets etc and really sort through.  I find myself getting more brutal about what needs to go  as I go along too.

When we moved to this home three years ago, we came from a much bigger house that held a lot more “stuff”.  We got rid of so much stuff then ….out of necessity of not enough space since we had downscaled.  But after 3 years, as I’m looking through things, I realize there are things I haven’t touched in the 3 years we’ve lived here.  So…out they go!

It’ll take me a while. I’m maybe half way done.  I may not be done by Imbolc but that’s just fine.  I’m actually, unfortunately, having surgery the day before Imbolc so that will slow me down a bit.  I was hoping to be done before my surgery, but I don’t think that will happen.  We shall see 🙂  By the way, I’m fine…just something that needs to be fixed and will take the usual 6 weeks to completely heal, but I’m fine 🙂

So far this Winter, along with Imbolc cleaning, I have read a LOT!  Especially since the holidays were over. I adore getting lost in a book, and I am so happy to have the time to do it to my heart’s content. It looks a lot like this:

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I have also been working on some BOS pages, journaling, working on my herbal course a bit, spending more time with my grandkids who are homeschooled and more available, and really just nesting. I am about to dive into my Witch cupboard to give it a thorough cleaning, cleansing, and re-arranging.  I have bought some gorgeous, new oil bottles and herb jars and I’m anxious to get them set up inside my cabinet..to replace the mish mash of stuff that’s there now 🙂  I can’t wait to start blending oils for each pretty bottle!  I have a list of what I’m making from simple rosemary oil to Sabbat blends to my favorite altar oil.  I so love doing that!  Planning on starting tomorrow!  I’m also going to make some salt blends as well.

Right now, for Winter, the dark time, I’ve got my altar set up to honor my beloved Goddess, Hekate.  I find myself drawn to it several times a day and that is a good thing.  I’ll keep it up until I’m ready to set up my Imbolc altar, which won’t be too long now.

 

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Winter…I know so many who find it to be their least favorite season.  But other than Autumn, I find it to be especially beautiful.  I love hearing the wind blowing.  There is great magick there, in the Air that is either cold, still and quiet, or blowing and frigid.  On quiet nights, I love to stand outside seeing the inky black skies with bright stars, see my breath on the Air, smell the woodsmoke from the chimneys in my neighborhood, see the lights shining in the windows, feel the quiet of the ground beneath my feet.  The silence is often palpable…and beautiful.  I know that Mother Earth is resting, renewing, preparing to awake in the Spring and bring Life back to this wonderful Earth we call Home.

I especially love the trees in Winter.  There is something so mystical about a tree, bare of foliage, standing dark and stark against white snow and dark skies.  Or blue skies for that matter. Either still and quiet, or standing strong against blustery winds and snow. The shadows they cast long over the snow, always catch my eye.  You can feel that they too, are resting, waiting.

In my garden beds, there are still plants that had re-bloomed in our late warm days, and now stand snow covered, withering, but leaving the promise of returning bigger and stronger in the Spring.  Some of the tall ones provide shelter for birds and ground animals which I love.  There is beauty there as well.

Some of my favorite things about Winter?  Fires, woodsmoke, fuzzy socks, a stack of books, coffee or tea or cocoa, colorful scarves and mittens, sleds and ice skates, hot meals in the oven or on the stove, bread baking, soup simmering, hot rum toddies, flannel sheets, piles of blankets, wind blowing, snow falling, candles burning, more time to rest, Moon rises, Sun sets, squirrels gathering, birds feeding, and so so much more.  If you love Winter, you know everything I’m talking about.  If you don’t love Winter, well, I bet you love a lot of the things I’ve talked about.  So maybe Winter isn’t so bad?  But don’t fret, as you know, Spring will indeed come.  And look what has come to my mailbox:

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LOL…I so love my seed catalogs!  And yes, I’m already planting my herbs and flowers in my head.  How about you?

I’ll be back soon with a post for Imbolc and some recipes 🙂  For now, be safe out there, remember to take in the beauty of the season, find something you love to do, and slow down and enjoy!!

Blessings and Love,

Autumn

 

*All the pictures in this post are my own.

 

 

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Filed under Altars, Autumn, Books, Books I'm reading, Cleaning & Organizing, Family, Gardens, Goddess, Herbs, Imbolc, Magick, Mother Earth, My Favorite Things, My Writing, Nature, New Year, Our Yard, Pagan, Photography, Quote, Sabbat, Seasons, Spring, Uncategorized, Winter, Witch

Welcome 2016!……..

download (10)Merry Meet my friends!  It’s a gloomy and chilly day here today in Ohio.  We had several days of rain to the point of flooding in some areas…including my own backyard!  The rain is gone for now, but the gloom remains.  I’m home today, at least until this afternoon.  I have Blackmore’s Night playing, a fire in the hearth, laundry going, and decided I had time to do a blog post.

How were your holidays?  I hope that Father Christmas/Santa was good to you and that your family and friends had a blessed time together.  I had a very nice holiday.  My family enjoyed each other, the food was delicious, and Santa was good to us.  My grandkids, especially, made the festivities fun for us all.  Seeing Yule/Christmas through their eyes is a wonderful thing to experience.  Brings back memories of my own childhood and my own children’s as well.  And more memories were made I’m sure 🙂

Now, we head into a new year!  For us Pagans and Witches, Our New Year officially started at Samhain, but having said that, there is much to celebrate about a new calendar year!  There is something about counting down the last of 2015 and knowing that 2016 is here.  For many, it’s time to re-evaluate our lives.  Many of us look back on the last year and see things that were great and things that can be improved on.  Some of us set goals or resolutions for the new year.  Maybe we want to improve our health, our relationships, our jobs, our attitudes, our love life etc.  Maybe we are still healing from illnesses or losses.  I do all these things.  But I do them kind of constantly, not just at the new year.

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I don’t set resolutions, but I always have goals in mind.  I think most of us do.  After all, we grow stagnant and boring if we don’t have something we are striving for!  Don’t you think?  The start of a new year is like having a a brand new clean calendar of days ahead of us.  We can jot in, fill up our days with whatever we want!  You choose whether they are filled up with empty days of daily drudge, unhappiness, inactivity, and anger etc.  Or…we can fill them with joy, love, happiness, activity, learning, and finding time to do the things we love.

 

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I’ve talked about this before.  Years ago, I read a book about changing one thing in your life to start yourself off on a better way of Life.  It was a profound thing for me.  Think how easy it is to take that first step….just change one small thing to start!  For instance, you want to be healthier in 2016.  If you need to exercise, try walking to the end of your street and back to make a start.  Or sign up for a yoga class or look one up on Youtube.  Or get a step monitor and pay attention to how many steps you’re getting in each day.  Want to lose weight?  Maybe stop drinking sugary drinks first….or cut down on bread and sweets, or don’t eat after 7:00 at night.  Want to improve a relationship?  Invite that person to have coffee with you, or make a long overdue phone call.  Want to get a better job?  Make a list of what works with the job and what doesn’t. Is there one thing on there that you can change to make it better?  Or maybe take a class ..something that will lead you to your dream job. Tired all the time? Figure out how to get 30 minutes more sleep..in a bed! Not in a chair in front of the tv! (a mistake many of us make lol)  These of course are just basic ideas, but you get the picture.

One thing I changed for myself was that I realized I didn’t have enough time to myself.  Just quiet, by myself time.  What one thing did I do to fix that?  I got up earlier to have time in the morning to myself.  Then I decided NOT to get on facebook first thing, but to journal or read, or practice my Craft in a simple way.  Now, it’s a regular thing with me that I look forward to and very much need in my Life.  It has improved my mood and my day immensely.  And it was just realizing what I needed, and devising a way to get it!

No matter how wonderful our life is, or how not wonderful it is for that matter, we can improve our lives by making choices.  My next step, to make time to get that herbalist class done..to make it a part of each day or a few days a week to get that certificate I’ve been wanting for too long!  Also, I have been losing weight for nearly 10 months now and I have a bit more to go..but I’m getting there!  Adding in better exercise will be a priority as well. I know that is something I NEED to do to get all the way healthy!

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I am 57 years old, heading to 58.  I’ve learned a lot in those years, and still learning.  The main wisdom I’ve garnered?  We make our life what it is.  We can not blame other people or circumstances for what is right or wrong in our lives.  It’s up to us not to allow that to happen. If your life isn’t as you want it…change it.  Other things I’ve learned…always be grateful, find happiness in the small things, take time for our loved ones and relish every moment of every day!  There is beauty all around us if we look for it, and listen to your inner Goddess/Spirit/Guide always!

Let’s look at 2016 as the year we’re going to do something wonderful in our lives!  I’d love to hear what it is you would like to do?  And by the way, it’s a goal, not a resolution that gets broken immediately.  A goal is a long-term thing..at least that’s my take on it.  We strive to meet a goal, no matter how long it takes or how many set-backs we have along the way.  It’s the working to get there that leaves us happy and satisfied.

While I’m at it, let me thank my 748 followers who have visited my blog over 201,000 times!  Wow!  I very much appreciate anyone taking an interest in my writing or what I have to say.  I love your comments and feedback as well and some of you have become dear friends.  Thank you Thank you!   Happy New Year to you and yours! May it be filled with all the good things Life has to offer!! ❤

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Blessings and Love,

Autumn

 

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Filed under Discussion, Family, Friends, Goddess, Grandchildren, Happy New Year, Holiday, My Writing, Pagan, quotes, Seasons, Thank You!, Uncategorized

Merry Yule/Winter Solstice 2015 and Recipes!…….

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Where I’m sitting right now!

Merry Meet my friends…I’m sitting by the fire on this the longest night of the year, in my pj’s with a glass of mulled wine at hand.  My daughter and I are watching “A Christmas Story” and I suddenly remembered that I hadn’t written my post yet for Yule!  I’m so sorry, but better late than never 🙂  I really did want to share some recipes with you that will come in handy the next 10 days or so.

It’s pouring rain, gloomy and windy here and we are on another week of unseasonable temperatures! Record highs in the mid 60’s are expected!  I so wish it was snow and not rain!  I ran my last couple of errands to do today and I have about 10 packages to wrap and I’m officially all ready for the holidays….. except for a trip to the grocery early tomorrow morning. I’m hoping I can avoid some of the crowds doing that.  I’m looking forward to a more quiet Christmas as my family gatherings will be over the weekend rather than the eve or the day of.  So reading and relaxing is high on my agenda lol.  And yes, those who know me, know that I do gather with my family for Christmas.  It’s not a religious holiday for me at all, but it is for many of my family members that I love, so I celebrate with them, but in my own way.  As a family time together, celebrating with gifts and food and love and joy!

Tonight, I will do some altar work, use my hearth fire to burn that which I wish for, and those things I wish to let go, and I will make time to honor my favored Goddess Hekate.  Tomorrow morning, I’ll be up early, toasting the rising of the Sun (whether I can actually see  him/her or not) and make my offerings to Mother Earth.  The day will be spent partially with family, and then quiet and introspective tomorrow evening. The fire is burning merrily. The house is smudged and candles are lit. I have bayberry, frankincense, pine, orange, clove and cinnamon scents going with the help of incense, candles and a simmering potpourri.  Our feast, which we’ll have tomorrow night, will just be soup, salad and bread. Simple and good.

Foods for Yule are traditionally:  Nuts, apples, caraway cakes soaked with cider, pears, ginger tea, roasted turkey, fruitcake,  cookies, eggnog, mulled wine, and pork dishes.  But there are other foods as well associated with the season such as gingerbread, ham, cranberries, pomegranates, mince pies, and frankly, whatever else your family tradition is!  What are your foods that your family just MUST have on the table for your Yule/Christmas/New Year’s feast?  Well, I’ll share a couple of recipes here with you that my family loves, as I have in past postings.  I see through my blog stats that MANY of you are checking out all my previous posts for Yule/Solstice and I so appreciate that.  Thank you!  Hope you like these too!

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Red and Green Pear Salad

1/3 cup walnut pieces
3 Tbs cider vinegar
1 Tbs honey
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp freshly ground pepper
2 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil
8 oz mixed baby greens
2 pears, such as Bartlett, cored and sliced
1/2 cup pomegranate seeds
1 oz  blue cheese, crumbled

Toast walnut pieces your favorite way. Pour onto a plate to cool and set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the vinegar, honey, mustard, salt and pepper. Add the olive oil in a thin stream, whisking constantly until the dressing is smooth.
Add the greens, pears, pomegranate seeds and walnuts to the bowl with the dressing and toss gently to coat. Divide the salad among 4 plates, garnish with the cheese and serve immediately. Serves 4.

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Merry Yule Fruitcake Bars

*even if you hate fruitcake..try these!

3/4 cup butter, softened
1-3/4 cups packed brown sugar
3 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3 cups coarsely chopped walnuts
1-1/2 cups coarsely chopped candied pineapple
1-3/4 cups red and green candied cherries, halved
2 cups pitted dates, halved

In a large bowl, cream the butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each. Stir in vanilla. Add flour and walnuts; mix well. Spread evenly into a greased 15-in. x 10-in. x 1-in. baking pan. Sprinkle with pineapple, cherries and dates; press lightly into dough.
Bake at 325° for 45-50 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool on a wire rack. Cut into bars.

Yield: 8 dozen.

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Solstice Mulled Wine

2 (750 ml) bottles of dry white wine
2 oranges, sliced into rounds
1/2 cup brandy (optional)
1/2 cup honey or sugar
16 whole cloves
4 cinnamon sticks
4 star anise
optional garnishes: citrus slices (orange, lemon and/or lime), extra cinnamon sticks, extra star anise

Combine all ingredients in a non-aluminum saucepan, and bring to a simmer (not a boil..it will boil the alcohol right out of it!) over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low, and let the wine simmer for at least 15 minutes or up to 3 hours. Strain, and serve warm with your desired garnishes.

Yum!  Sounds warm and cozy doesn’t it?!

I hope you give these a try over the holidays.  Don’t forget, you can do a search in the box over there ——> under Yule or Winter Solstice to find more from previous years.

Remember that tonight and tomorrow night if you wish, is all about the longest night of the year and knowing that the Sun returns and the days will lengthen once again.  Think about what our ancestors were thinking on this night.  They were hoping they had enough food put away for the long, hard Winter.  Winter was hard, no doubt!  Isolation, hard work, chopping wood for warmth, and making sure that their livestock survived the long, cold, dark season..along with themselves, had to be a scary time for them.  We are so blessed these days. But for tonight, perhaps pretend what it was like to be them.  Light a fire and keep it stoked.  Light candles all over the house. Turn off the tv, get off the electronics (which I will do as soon as I’m done with this writing 🙂 and perhaps just sit quietly and think, ponder, remember, cherish or make new memories.  What do you wish for yourself and your loved ones in the coming months? What do you need to let go of to be happy and content in your life.  Are there relationships to repair or depart from?  Is there a project you want to take on over the Winter?  Do you have a huge stack of books you’ve been dying to read?  (I do! )  Well, now you will have the time…most likely.

Blessed  Yule/Winter Solstice my dear friends.  May Winter be kind to you, may Goddess bless you with all the good things in Life, and I thank you so much for your friendship and interest in reading my little blog and letting me know you enjoy it.  I so much appreciate it!

I share this poem most every Solstice time because I love it so much.  This year is no different! Enjoy!

The Shortest Day

by Susan Cooper

So the shortest day came, and the year died,
And everywhere down the centuries of the snow-white world
Came people singing, dancing,
To drive the dark away.
They lighted candles in the winter trees;
They hung their homes with evergreen;
They burned beseeching fires all night long
To keep the year alive,
And when the new year’s sunshine blazed awake
They shouted, reveling.
Through all the frosty ages you can hear them
Echoing behind us – Listen!!
All the long echoes sing the same delight,
This shortest day,
As promise wakens in the sleeping land:
They carol, fest, give thanks,
And dearly love their friends,
And hope for peace.
And so do we, here, now,
This year and every year.
Welcome Yule!!

 

Love and Blessings, Autumn

 

 

 

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The Wheel Turns to the Winter Solstice/Yule 2015…..

 

 

To celebrate the Sun, the Land, the Ancient Ones, the great Circle of Nature.
To welcome in the Winter and the New Year.
To bring forth renewal, peace, and joy.

-Selena Fox “Saturnalia” 

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMerry Meet my friends!  It’s a Monday evening, quiet in the house at the moment after a busy day.  It rained today and we have been un-seasonably warm here in Ohio.  Too warm for my tastes actually lol, but we will start cooling down in the next few days!

The Solstice is coming fast…just a week away!  Yule, or the Winter Solstice is all about the return of the Sun.  It will be the longest night, and then we celebrate the rotation and the days lengthening as we eventually get to Spring again.  Having said that, here in Ohio and many other places on this wonderful, good Earth, we have a long Winter ahead of us yet!  I have been preparing for it for some time now.  From putting away the garden tools, and getting the garden beds cleaned up and mulched, to pulling out warm blanket throws, making elderberry syrup and of course, shopping for Yule and Christmas gifts and all the things associated with the holidays!

 

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My elderberry syrup brewing

 

I also have planned for projects to do over the dark time of Winter. And my list gets longer lol.  Books I want to read, house projects to do, projects associated with my Craft such as getting my herbalist class going, working on my BOS, and some witchy crafts too.  I often feel that Autumn is too, too short of a season, it goes by so fast I think because it’s my favorite.  Winter, to me, often is a very long season…which I think is a good thing!  I have already found myself staying indoors more, except on these really warm days we’re experiencing right now!  As I said before, it’s nesting…..loving my home and being in it!

For my Solstice celebrations, I most definitely clean the house well, make sure I have lots of candles and firewood, stock up the pantry for cooking and baking, and do as much ahead of time as I can.  For me, and for many I know, the Solstice is not so much about families and friends gathering, not about gift giving, not about a huge feast and loud, noisy parties.  It’s more about a simple meal, quiet introspection, offerings to our Gods and Mother Earth,  and dwelling in the darknesss, in a content and joyful way.  It’s about quiet meditation, reflecting on the year ahead and what we wish to leave behind.  I often will get up early to toast the Sun as he/she rises.  I say he to cover those who think of the Sun as the Male God rising again, and I say she for those who think of her as Sister Sun.  You can fill it in as you wish 🙂 Whether you toast with a mimosa,  a cup of coffee or a glass of water, the ritual holds meaning.  It’s representative of the days starting to lengthen and we know there is hope that after Winter we will have Spring.  My coven has decided to meet on January 3. To allow everyone time with their families at this busy time of year.  We all look forward to it very much.  It’s a feast of desserts, coffee, hot chocolate and our fun gift exchange..all around a fire.  Perfect!

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My Yule Altar 2015

My Solstice/Yule altar is always one of my favorites I do each year.  I set it up early in December and have enjoyed using it each day.  I have a new Goddess statue..Elen of the Ways which I’m in love with.  I’ll be talking more about her in another blog soon.  Not the statue, but Elen herself.  🙂  I love my real deer antler, my YULE log my hubby drilled holes in for me, and of course all the red and green crystals, candles, and my elemental representatives. I’ve had the beautiful deer for years now and it brings me joy every time I see it.  The vase is filled with Rosemary…a gift from the garden of one of my coven sisters.  Her Rosemary was still going strong with all the warm weather we’ve been having and she made sure I had some.  It smells so good!  I’ll be adding more greens on top of my Yule log and some cakes and ale the night of the Solstice.

For crafty things I like to do this time of year.  Feed the birds with peanut butter covered bagles dipped in bird seed.  String cereal like a garland.  Gather bits of yarn, fur, dryer fuzz and put everything out for the birds..they will love it!  Make orange pomanders. Make beautiful oil blends and use them to anoint candles, your altar, yourself.  Gather some dried herbs and make herbed salts, oils and vinegars for gifts.  Bake bread and take a loaf to a neighbor.  Gather the grandkids or kids and make lots of cookies.  Even better, make dog biscuits and share them with all the dogs in your life.

Don’t forget to donate!  Clean out your closets and cupboards and take them to Goodwill or a homeless shelter or a battered woman’s shelter.  Donate dog and cat food to your local shelter..better yet, take home a pet that needs a home!  Give to Toys for Tots, Books for kids, the Red Cross, Salvation Army, adopt a family, send a military shoe box, and/or volunteer at a soup kitchen or food pantry.  You’ll be all the better for it! Give, give, give to be truly grateful with what you have!

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My hearth fires burning

I love to burn candles all over the house, and to keep off of all electronics!  I’ll often journal, read, scry in the fire…Oh..there MUST be a fire in the hearth of course! That goes without saying 🙂  Soup and bread are often my preferred meal (my family loves that too) and we just have a quiet peaceful night.  Stepping outside to make my offerings, absorb the energy from Earth and Grandmother Moon as well.  And to listen…listen to the quiet of Winter…it’s so peaceful. Keep in mind that our Mother Earth is also resting, rejuvenating, and readying for when Spring blooms again.  Then, a good night’s sleep and I’ll be ready to hop back into the much more chaotic holiday of Christmas that comes a few days later!

Ritual for any Sabbat doesn’t have to be organized or methodical.  When I first started blogging, I often shared actual rituals that I had found online or in books.  Now, I just tell you what I do.  What I do at my altar..well, that’s between me and my Goddess as they say.  The words I use, the tools I use, the feelings I emote and the goals I’m trying to manifest are my own.  I have many friends who are new to the Craft, or maybe aren’t so new, but get bogged down in worrying about rhyming words, what color the stones should be, or where the candles should go on the altar.  I say…..it’s YOUR Path….do what feels right to you. Period.  Your intentions and your inner Magick and your relationship with your God/Goddess is all that matters.  You’ll be heard!

I’ll be back in a day or two with a few recipes I thought I’d share. I’d like to remind you that you can search for Yule or Winter Solstice in the search box on the right ———> for more posts like the correspondences, recipes, poems and quotes etc.  I see many of you are finding them already.  🙂  In the meantime, have a wonderful week!

Love and Blessings, Autumn

 

 

 

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Love actually IS all around us……..

christmas-candle-douglas-pulsipherMerry Meet my friends.  I have been very remiss about writing in my blog.  I have been very busy…as we all are this time of year!  I will be here more often now for a couple of reasons I’ll fill you in about in a moment.  First, I wanted to say that I hope you all had a lovely Thanksgiving, for those who celebrate it.  I know I did. I had 14 here at my house for a wonderful meal that was enjoyed by all.  It was a relaxing day with good food and good company and we all were sure to be grateful for all the good things in our life.  I hope it was the same for you and yours!

Now we are rapidly heading towards the Winter Solstice and holidays.  As I’ve said many times, the Wheel seems to spin faster and faster as I get older!  I’ve been more housebound lately due to various reasons (which I’m enjoying!) so I’m shopping online (so much better than fighting crowds)  have decorated the house, set up my Solstice Altar, and enjoying some quiet time reading by the fire, relaxing and nesting in as Winter comes.   After all, Winter is my 2nd favorite season and I look forward to it!

A bit of news, for those of you who have been reading Samhain’s Sirens in October and The Sunday Stew every Sunday.  I’m sorry to tell you that both are no more.  The Stew will finish up to the end of the year and Samhain’s Sirens finished at Samhain this year.  I will miss being a writer and a reader for both publications.  The founder, Kallan Kennedy, has decided to move on to other projects, which I totally understand!  The good news for me…I will have more time for my own writing.  Both here on my blog, and for a project I’m seriously considering…writing my own cookbook, based on the Sabbats.  What do you think of that idea?  My most popular blog posts have always been the ones about the Sabbats and recipes for the Sabbats…I thought, why not make them into a book?  LOL…that’s the plan anyway.

So, to get serious for a bit.  There has been much to despair about in our world today.  Mass shootings are on the rise.  Politics and religion are causing many arguments and chaos.  Many of us are scared to go out of our homes. Many of us are fleeing social networks to avoid the negativity, squabbling and downright nastiness we see in our newsfeeds these days.  Let me tell you, I have been nesting so have backed off anyway, but I too,  have been protecting my psyche by staying away more.  When I do go to Facebook for instance, I do my best to be cheerful, spread kindness and love, and be a positive place where people can think of something else besides the big, scary world. But even I have posted about the hate I see in this world…much of it in the name of religion.  And I don’t just mean the terrorists..I mean people hating on other races and religions, conservatives vs liberals, christians vs  well…you get the idea.  Of course not everyone is spewing hatred.  This is what I want to talk about.

I like to say in I live in a happy little bubble of a Life.  It’s not that I live with my head stuck in the ground, but that I do my best not to let things come into my Life that I don’t want there.  I’m aware of the news, but don’t stay glued to the tv for hours on end.  I don’t feel the need to go to Facebook or Twitter and spew my opinion to everybody.  I will often as simply for Prayers for whatever city, country, people need it, express my sorrow and then try to find something happy and peaceful to say and do.  I have many social friends who are the same.

The movie “Love Actually” is one of my all-time favorite movies.  There is such a moral lesson to be learned in that movie.  My daughter and I watched it a few days ago again and ever since, I have thought about writing something about it here.  If you’ve never seen it..do!  At the beginning of the movie, the narrator talks about love while scenes at an airport are showing on the screen. Yes..an airport.  Over and over it shows people being greeted from the plane with open arms, smiles, hugs, tears and love.  It makes me cry every time I watch it. There is something about seeing people with their arms around each other that just melts me.  The song “Love is all around us” plays a part throughout the movie as well.  At the end, of the narration he says (it’s Hugh Grant by the way, who is yummy)  “Love actually is all around us”.   *watch the video for yourself!*

 

 

 

Think about that statement.  We all are very focused on what’s wrong with humans these days.  But I believe that we all want Love.  We seek Love,  We give Love.  We are capable of great Love to others.  It’s easy to love our families (most of the time lol) our friends, our community.  We see it over and over when there’s been a tragedy. There are helping hands readily available, heroes who risk their own lives to save others, people rushing towards instead of running from….to help.  To love.

Even the worse person you can think of, someone you may even find to be evil,  probably still loves someone. Nobody can go through life not loving somebody.  I think on this when I feel myself getting discouraged from the hate, chaos, dissension, and cruelty I see daily.  I believe we all are here, no matter your religious path…to love and be loved.

I do my best to seek those who spread love.  I do my best not to worry about being scared. I do my best to avoid hatred. I do my best not to state my opinion to others in a way that great offense can be taken.  I strive to be loving and kind. None of us are perfect…we all fail at this from time to time. But if we look, if we give what we’d like to receive, we can accomplish so much as a people.  This includes loving those who are in great need, loving Mother Earth and caring for Her…Her animals, Air, Oceans, and all the She gives us. Being accepting of other religions.  Trying to understand those we don’t understand.  and please understand me, I too find it difficult to understand anyone..I mean anyone..who can take the life of another person or an animal in anyway.  I’m not saying we have to love them…but we have to find a way for it to stop happening.

Love Actually IS all around us if we seek it, give it and spread it around.  Only Love towards one another will help to heal the wounds people give to one another.  It starts with each of us.  Be kind…treat others as you want them to treat you.  Avoid the people you are no way able to do this with..because believe me, I know that there are some people who are un-lovable to me.  But keep in mind, they are lovable to someone else.  I just let them go..I don’t harbor hatred towards them..I just let it go.  If you want to see love easily, try going to the airport and watching the departures and arrivals.  That will open your eyes and warm your heart! And really, watch the movie “Love Actually”…you’ll love it!

I hope that the holidays and the upcoming Winter Solstice are a time of Peace and Love for us all.  I pray to the Goddess that you and yours stay safe in your own happy little bubbles!  I’ll be back soon with another post, Yule recipes and to talk about some favorite books I’ve been reading lately.  Blessed Be my friends…May Goddess bless you all! ❤

 

Love and Blessings,

Autumn

 

 

 

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