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Blessed Samhain 2016….and recipes!

“I see the turning of a leaf dancing in the autumn sun,

and brilliant shades of crimson glowing when a day is done

-Hazelmarie Mattie Elliott-

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Merry Morning and Blessed Samhain my friends!  The glorious day is finally here! The Witch’s favorite Sabbat!  Our New Year!  Here in Ohio it’s a cool, blue sky, sunny day.  We’ve had some overly warm days here lately…too warm in the upper 70’s for my taste, but today it feels like Fall again.  The skies are inky black as we’re in our New Moon which adds magick to our new year and new beginnings!  Winds are brisk and leaves are falling fast, chipmunks and squirrels gather food for the winter, birds are busy at the feeders, pumpkins are grinning from porches  and children ready their costumes for trick or treat!  The veil thins and there is a mystical feel to the Air! Autumn is in full glory!

My coven gathered Saturday night.  We had soups, breads and desserts. As it was warm, we spent time outside.  A few of our sisters didn’t make it this year and the rest of us were more quiet and subdued. Perhaps the thinning veil making us not feel up to par, tired and moody I think.  Speaking for myself, that was the case.  How does the thinning veil affect you?  I’ve had times of high energy, and times of melancholy and low energy too.  Today, I feel great!

I’m harvesting the last of my herbs today. Then tonight is our Beggar’s Night.  This year we’ll be home passing out candy as we spent time with my grandkids yesterday.  Keeping dinner simple with soup and sandwiches.  I’m also burying new witch’s protection bottles, making an offering to Mother Earth and tonight a fire and spending time with my ancestors. I am a journaler and I’ve been journaling my thoughts and wishes for a wonderful new year to come.  I look back on this last year with fondness and feelings of how blessed I am. and forward with the same.  What will you be pleased about in your past year

and what changes will you make in this next year to improve on it?  These are the things I think about today.

I promised some recipes and better late than never.  So here a few new ones!

cider

Samhain Spiced Cider

1/4 cup packed brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon whole allspice

1 teaspoon whole cloves

1 cinnamon stick

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 pinch ground nutmeg

1 large orange, quartered with peel

2 quarts apple cider

*use a gallon of cider and double the rest!

Place in a dutch oven on the stove on low heat or a slow cooker on low all day! So yummy!  I made this for my coven saturday night and they loved it!

pumpkin soup

Butternut Squash Soup

1 Tb butter

1 Tb olive oil

3/4 cup chopped onion

3/4 cup chopped carrot

2 garlic cloves, minced

4-5 cups cubed, peeled butternut squash

4 1/2 cups chicken stock

1 tsp dried sage

3/4 tsp salt

pepper to taste

a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes (optional)

In a large saucepan, heat butter and oil over medium heat.  Add onion and carrot; cook and stir until tender.  Add garlic and cook one minute longer.

Stir in squash, stock, sage, salt and pepper and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat, simmer, covered 20 minutes or until squash is tender.  Remove from heat; cool slightly.

Process in a blender until smooth.  Serves 6

Apple Caramel Cheesecake Bars

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

3/4 cup cold butter, cubed

2 pkgs (8 oz each) cream cheese, softened

1/2 cup plus 2 Tb sugar, divided

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 large eggs, slightly beaten

3 medium tart apples, peeled and finely chopped

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

Streusel topping

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

3/4 cup packed brown sugar

1/2 cup quick cooking oats

1/3 cup cold butter, cubed

1/3 cup hot caramel ice cream topping

Preheat oven to 350*.  In a small bowl, combine the flour and brown sugar; cut in butter until crumbly.  Press into a well-greased 13×9 inch baking pan.  Bake 15-18 minutes or until lightly browned.

In a large bowl, beat cream cheese, 1/2 cup sugar and vanilla until smooth.  Add eggs; beat on low speed just until combined. Spread over baked crust.

In a small bowl, toss apples with cinnamon, nutmeg and remaining sugar; spoon over cream cheese layer.  In another bowl, mis streusel topping until crumbly.  Sprinkle over apple layer.

Bake 25-30 minutes or until filling is set.  Drizzle with caramel topping; cool in pan on a wire rack for 1 hour.  Refrigerate for 2 hours at least.  Cut into bars and serve.

Yummy…I love Autumn baking especially.  Don’t you?

I want to wish you all a very Blessed Samhain.  May your ancestors smile upon you and impart words of wisdom, joy and a sense of peacefulness to you in the coming year.  Goddess Bless you all!

“Between the heavens and the earth
The way now opens to bring forth
The Hosts of those who went on before;
Hail! We see them now come through the Open Door.

Now the veils of worlds are thin;
To move out you must move in.
Let the Balefires now be made,
Mine the spark within them laid.

Move beyond the fiery screen,
Between the seen and the unseen;
Shed your anger and your fear,
Live anew in a new year!”
– Lore of the Door

Blessings and Love,

Autumn

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The Wheel Turns to Samhain 2016…..

A brooding calm in all the air,
A dreamy quiet everywhere…
A golden glow to light the day
That fades in purple mists away—
This soothing calm, this presence bright,
October’s sweet and mellow light.
~Phebe A. Holder, “A Song of October,”

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Merry Meet my friends!  How is your Autumn going so far?  Autumn weather has finally arrived here in Ohio in the last week or so, and it’s been re-vitalizing, beautiful and wonderful!  As you all know….my favorite time of year and I seem to just wake up!

I apologize again for a longer -than- usual absence.  My life is really busy these days and I’ve had to prioritize what I can get done.  As much as I love to write, and I do write in my journals etc, I just had to put my blog aside…again.  Between my in-laws moving here, losing my only day nurse that helps me with my daughter, a trip to Sleepy Hollow (which was fabulous and I’ll write about that trip here in a day or two) plus preparing the house for Autumn/Winter, and the usual every day stuff like family, time with my grandkids etc etc.  Please know, I know you ALL are just as busy….but I’m explaining why I’m not writing here as much.

Having said that all, Samhain is coming fast and I wanted to be here with you all to show my enjoyment of this most special Sabbat time of year!  As our summer seemed to linger longer than usual this year, I’m busily jarring dried herbs from earlier in the year, and making room for the last harvest of herbs to hang and dry.  My herbs are still thriving and huge so my last harvest will be abundant!  Hubby and I have been busy cleaning up the garden beds, cutting back, protecting, and preparing the beds for next Spring. Also, things in the house, like washing rugs, curtains, windows, having furnace inspected, fireplace cleaned and a cord of wood ordered so we are ready for the dark months!  Despite all the work, I so love this time of year and take the time for walks, Moon basking, apple and pumpkin baking, and a little shopping for new jackets, and sweaters etc.  I’ve also been busy crocheting scarves and blankets which I find incredibly Zen.  What are you doing to prepare for the dark time of the year?

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The veil is thinning and all Witches can feel it.  My mind often goes to my loved ones who have passed onto the other side of the veil.  I can’t bake without thinking of my grandmother, hear a song on the radio that reminds me of a good friend, or visit the cemetaries, adrift in falling leaves to feel close to those who are still with us in mind and spirit. Witches prepare their altars to honor their ancestors and loved ones during this most magickal season.  But we also look back on the last year, as Samhain is our new year after all.  What worked for us, what didn’t, what we keep and what we throw away/let go.  We make plans for our New Year, knowing that we have the dark time of the year coming, when we may be a little less busy, have more time to reflect by fires, read, organize, dream, learn, and decide what we may do to improve constantly on our lives, our minds, our bodies and spirits.

My coven will gather on the 29th for soups, breads, desserts and a fire.  A ritual to honor the New Year and our ancestors.  It’s a wonderful time of wearing our witchiest garb, and while fun, we are also very dedicated to the night…the time…the veil…..the looking forward and backward…helping each other if needed.  We all celebrate solitarily as well….but our combined energies make it an amazing night!

I’m a true believer in constantly learning and expanding my knowledge base.  So I’ve begun to think about what books I’d like to read over the Winter.  What are some of your favorite witchy books, or learning books you’ve read lately?  I’d love some suggestions!  I have some books on tarot, crystals, reiki, certain goddesses etc I’ll be reading…along with good fiction of course!  Any suggestions most appreciated as I’m always looking for something I don’t know about 🙂

October is crisp days and cool nights,

a time to curl up around the dancing flames

and sink into a good book.

~John Sinor (1930–1996), in San Diego Union-Tribune

I’m off to enjoy a bit of time outside today…perhaps starting to harvest those herbs, or just taking a walk.  I’ll be back in the next day or two with a post about that trip to Sleepy Hollow and as always, some wonderful recipes for Samhain.  Also, a bit of news I should be ready to talk about in the next week.  In the meantime, It’s Autumn!!   That wonderful blue sky, sunny days and crisp nights, woodsmoke and falling leaves, sweaters and scarves, pumpkins and apples, witches and black cats, all things spooky and wonderful, Time of year!!  Autumn passes so fast…enjoy every beautiful moment!!

Blessings and Love,

Autumn

 

 

 

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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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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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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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