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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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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 Samhain 2014……….

imagesCA0GN85BMerry Meet my friends.  I have been so busy I’m very late coming to my blog to write about my favorite Sabbat!  It should come as no surprise to anyone that it’s my favorite.  I’m a Witch after all!  Samhain is the Witch’s New Year, the night the veil between the worlds is the thinnest, the night we can commune with our ancestors who have passed on, and of course, it’s the night many Witches love to put on all of their witchiest clothes, jewelry and of course our pointy hat! For me, this year, it’s also Beggar’s Night. Little ones will be coming to my door looking for candy (my grandkids will be doing that here too!)  The leaves are falling, the nights are cold and crisp, the wind blows, pumpkins are lit, adults and kids alike shiver with both a little bit of excitement and a little bit of something magickal!

For Samhain night, my family will gather here  for dinner, a fire and of course to pass out candy and for the grandkids to go trick or treating in my neighborhood.  After the little goblins have gone home with their parents, I will do my own quiet ritual. Divination to hopefully have my ancestors come thru to me will be done.  Also, an offering to Mother Earth as she slowly quiets and goes to rest for the Winter.  I also always express my gratitude to God and Goddess for the abundant Summer and beautiful Autumn season of growth and harvest both in my garden beds but within me as well.  As the Wheel turns, I too change and grow…no matter how old I am…I still do.

On Saturday night, my Circle will gather in full Witch regalia for fire, feast, and ritual.  Dressing the part is such fun for Samhain, as of course, we don’t walk around in black dresses, striped socks and pointy hats on a regular basis 🙂  We will honor our loved ones who have passed on, including our beloved pets. We also will have quiet discussion together on what the past year has brought for each of us, and what we look forward to in the next year.  On Sunday evening, my hubby and daughter and I will have a Dumb Supper or Ancestor Supper. This will be a quiet and introspective evening for me especially.  I always look forward to the fun and busyness of this Sabbat…but it’s the quiet times that have depth of meaning.  The quiet can bring messages from our ancestors, from Goddess and from our own conscience.  Always find time to be quiet and still and to listen.

One of my most popular blogs here over the years, has been my Samhain Recipes.  I’d like to go ahead and give you a few this year too.  If you have been following Samhain’s Sirens this year (button on the right side here) you will have already seen these recipes…but I will share them again here for those who haven’t.

 

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Autumn’s Spiced Apple Cider

*The perfect Samhain drink….add rum or vodka if you wish 🙂

 

1 gallon apple cider

15 whole cloves

10 whole allspice

1 TB candied ginger

12 cinnamon sticks

1 cup packed brown sugar

Combine all ingredients except sugar and bring to a boil in a large pot on the stove.  Lower heat, add sugar and simmer 15-20 minutes.  Strain and serve or place in a thermos for your picnic or drive.  You can keep it warm on the stove or crockpot all day long.  Store the leftovers in the fridge.

*If you like, place orange slices in the pot too..adds a sweet bit of tang!!

 

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Apple-Brie Crostini

These little toasted Crostini are a wonderful appetizer to serve for any Samhain gathering!   They are sweet and wonderful.   Great for an after dinner treat too!

 

1 loaf French bread, thinly sliced

1/4 cup butter, melted

1/2 cup brown sugar, packed

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

13.2 oz pkg Brie cheese, thinkly sliced

3 Granny Smith apples, cored and sliced

Arrange bread on an ungreased baking sheet; bake at 350* until lightly toasted. Set aside.

Mix together butter, sugar and walnuts.  Top each slice of bread with a cheese slice, an apple slice and a teaspoonful of butter mixture.

Return to baking sheet; bake briefly until cheese melts.  *Makes 24-30

**Variations….a sugared pecan with a drizzle of honey to top it…or a nice dollop of apple butter!

 

Farmer’s Market Autumn Stew

*A great way to finish up your Summer harvest or that last visit to the Farmers Market veggies!

 1/2 lb stew beef, cut into small cubes

2   1/2″ thick boneless pork chops, cubed

1 TB olive oil

2 carrots, peeled and chopped

2 parsnips, peeled and chopped

2 potatoes, peeled and chopped

1 stalk celery, chopped

2 apples, cored, peeled and cut into small cubes

2 TB quick-cooking tapioca, uncooked

1 cup apple cider

1 cup water

2 tsps beef bouillon granules

1/4 tsp pepper

1/4 tsp dried thyme

1/4 tsp dried rosemary

Salt to taste

Brown beef and pork in oil in a large skillet over medium heat; drain.  Place vegetables and apples in a slow cooker; sprinkle with tapioca. Add beef and pork.

Combine remaining ingredients in a small bowl; pour over beef and pork. Cover and cook on low setting for 8-10 hours or on high for 4-5 hours. Add salt to taste before serving.

*Makes 6 servings

 

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Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Cake

 

1 15 oz can of pumpkin

4 eggs, beaten

1 cup vegetable oil

2 cups sugar

3 cups all-purpose flour

2 tsps baking powder

2 tsps baking soda

2 tsps ground cinnamon

12 oz bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips

 

Preheat oven to 350* In a large bowl, mix together pumpkin, eggs, oil and sugar.  Mix in flour, baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon.  Stir in half the chocolate chips.  Pour batter into a greased and floured Bundt pan.  Sprinkle remaining chips over batter.

Bake at 350* for one hour, or until golden brown and inserted toothpick tests clean. Cool then remove from pan.  Top with fresh whipped cream to serve if you wish.

*Makes 12-16 servings.

Hope you enjoy the recipes if you try them.  I think you will!

 

I have gotten my Samhain altar done finally today. I particularly love Samhain altars.  This one literally gives me goosebumps.  Most of the time my altars are outdoors…simple and only a few necessities, but for Samhain, I love to go all out!  As you can see 🙂

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I’m working on writing up the rituals for my Circle gathering, and have a few cards to do yet.  But I am also very relaxed, using the fire in the fireplace to help me meditate, and again…..finding quiet time.  I hope you’re doing the same.  What loved one do you hope to hear from? What will you decide to let go in the old year and bring forth in the New Year?  Think on these things my friends.  Witch or not!

And finally, a favorite poem….I’ve posted it before but wanted to share again. Can’t you just feel the magick when you read it?   Blessed Samhain to you all…..Happy New Year!

 

The wheel has turned, the wheel of light

 stoke the fire and make it bright

Samhain call, Samhain come

 feel the rhythm , hear the drum

The veil it thins, the veil it shrouds

 the spirits rise upon darkened cloud

The time of orange , time of black

 time to move forward and not look back

Pumpkin lit , with candle burn

 away dark spirits this guardian turns

Night of the ancients, night of the olds

 remembered in stories now to be told

The Crone doth rise upon this night

 look into the shadows without a fright

Rituals and rites across the lands

 empowers the soul where they stand

 Trick or treat, heal or curse ,

 the hand should be crossed from a silver purse

The Wheel begins its time anew,

 the release of the old for the knowledgeable few

The time to scry to see the path we must take

 and of the choices we need to make

She comes to us in many guises

 the Crow and the owl her favourite disguises

The Earth gives us her last to give

 the bountiful harvest so we can live

We feast and drink in a sacred space

 behind samhain masks to hide our face

Through darkened day and moonlight night

 All hallows Eve is a beautiful sight!

(C) Copyright Phiona Hutton July 2010

Blessings and Love, Autumn

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Filed under Altars, Autumn, Bits of Magick, Family, Friends, Goddess, Grandchildren, Holiday, Mother Earth, My Favorite Things, My Writing, Nature, New Year, Photography, Poem, Recipe from my Kitchen, Ritual, Samhain, Seasons, Winter

Blessed Mabon 2014…………

 

“Smoke hangs like haze over harvested fields,
The gold of stubble, the brown of turned earth
And you walk under the red light of fall
The scent of fallen apples, the dust of threshed grain
The sharp, gentle chill of fall.
Here as we move into the shadows of autumn
The night that brings the morning of spring
Come to us, Lord of Harvest
Teach us to be thankful for the gifts you bring us …”
–  Autumn Equinox Ritual

 

Merry Meet my friends!  Autumn has arrived here in Ohio!  Even though Mabon isn’t until the 23rd, Autumn is here none the less. I for one, couldn’t be more Happy about it! My favorite time of year!!  Already I feel like a heavy load has been lifted.  The heat and humidity of Summer makes me feel heavy, weighed down, and tired.  I am energized as the cool days and even cooler nights are upon us.  We have had our first (and second and third) fires in the fireplace!  There is nothing more cozy to me than a fire on an Autumn evening.

 

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My oven has been busy with baking. My crockpot is on the counter permanently, garden beds are cleaned up of flowers that are spent and I’m about to harvest a huge amount of herbs..most of them for the last time this year.  Summer couch covers are washed and put away, warm blankets have been brought out, the chimney and furnace have been inspected and cleaned, a cord of wood has been ordered, and Winter clothes are in the closets and Summer clothes put away for next year.  Autumn cleaning is near finished.

We are seeing some color in the leaves already as I showed you on my last posting.  Some trees have lost their leaves completely, but there is LOTS of color still to come.  Bees still abound in my gardens. Birds, squirrels, chipmunks, and other ground animals are gathering frantically.  This morning I had a huge amount of activity at my bird and squirrel feeders.  I had a couple dozen mourning doves, a pair of cardinals, 3, yes 3! male blue jays, a Flicker woodpecker and multiple finches, sparrows and other small birds.  Our white squirrel Luna, other gray squirrels and several chipmunks were also scurrying and gathering! It was wonderful to watch.  I still have my hummingbird feeder up for migrating hummers, but we haven’t seen one for a few days now. If you don’t already, please think about feeding these animals and birds…to help them through the long hard Winter we are being promised again this year.  You will get so much pleasure out of it!

 

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My Mabon altar is set up and plans are made for my Circle/Tribe to meet on Sunday evening here.  There will be an outdoor fire, weather permitting, desserts, spiced cider and good company!  Several of us are also attending our local Pagan festival on Saturday which we are looking forward to.  For several of us, it’s our first time to go!  I am usually on vacation this time of year so haven’t been able to attend.  I can’t wait!

 

Yesterday, I was flipping through a Taste of the South magazine and came across a recipe that sounded so yummy I thought I’d share it here with you.  It sounds soooo spicy and good for Fall!  The picture is theirs as well.

 

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Orange-Cardamom Bread

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 1⁄2 teaspoons salt

1 1⁄2 teaspoons baking powder

2 1⁄2 cups sugar

1 1⁄2 cups whole milk

1 cup vegetable oil

3 large eggs

2 tablespoons orange zest

1 1⁄2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1⁄4 teaspoon ground cardamom

Orange Glaze (recipe follows)

Preheat oven to 350°. Spray 2 (8×4-inch) loaf pans with nonstick baking spray with flour. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, sift together flour, salt, and baking powder. Set aside.
In another medium bowl, beat sugar, milk, oil, eggs, zest, vanilla, and cardamom at medium speed with an electric mixer until well combined. Gradually add flour mixture, beating until smooth.
Divide batter evenly between prepared pans.
Bake 30 minutes. Loosely cover with aluminum foil, and bake until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean, approximately 30 minutes more.
Let cool in pans 10 minutes. Remove from pans, and let cool completely on a wire rack.
Drizzle with Orange Glaze.

 

Orange Glaze
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon orange zest
1⁄3 cup fresh orange juice
In a medium bowl, stir together confectioners’ sugar and orange zest and juice until smooth.
I will be making this recipe this week.  It sounds yummy!  I think my Circle ladies will like it! 🙂  I hope you try it too!
I am most anxious for the next couple months of Autumn weather and the first snows of Winter.  There is just something about this time of year to me.  I call it nesting…coming indoors.  Warmth of fire, smell of woodsmoke and candles, something simmering on the stove or baking in the oven, warm beverages, perhaps crochet or a book on my lap (and a cat or two of course) are all just so cozy to me.  I turn more inward, I am a bit less busy, more time for introspection, journaling, writing, reading etc.  Having said that, this is also my favorite time of year to go for a walk, to spend time walking on crisp, bright colored leaves in my warm jacket and gloves, seeing Mother Earth in all her glory….well it’s just a NEED!  I know many of you have the same need!  To grab every minute we can of the beauty that is our Mother.
I’m wishing you all a very Joyful and Blessed Mabon!  To you and yours!  May you find the balance in your life as Mabon, the Equinox, brings balance of day and night.  Prepare yourself for the dark months of the Year.  Blessed Be!
Blessing and Love, Autumn

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Beltaine Blessings 2014…….

thCA8K56D9Merry Beltaine Eve my friends.  It’s been a rainy few days here with afternoon hours of Sun and warmth and gentle breezes.  Really nice!  I am ready for my celebration of this fun Sabbat and almost ready for my Circle’s celebration on Saturday night.

I’ll start the morning off tomorrow greeting the Sun..I hope…then I’ll wash my face in the dew of the Beltaine morning to help me show a fresh face for the day and to bring light and beauty to my skin for the year 🙂  I’ll have coffee and a simple breakfast.  At some point of the day, I’ll take a walk and make offerings along the way to the Fae and the Goddess.   In the evening, a nice meal of fresh foods and a ritual to honor the Goddess and God as they meet and create and help the Wheel to continue to turn.  A simple way to celebrate the day in a solitary way.

On Saturday eve, my Circle gathers. We will feast, make May Day baskets, have a fire where we’ll burn wishes and herbs, and we will have a small, simple ritual.  The May Day baskets will go to elderly neighbors or family members to cheer them for the day. I can’t wait!

 

I thought I would share a wonderful salad recipe with you..perfect for Summer and warmer weather. Nice and light!

 

Strawberry Avocado Salad with Honey Lime Dressing

4 cups mixed greens/chopped lettuce

1 cup sliced strawberries

2 kiwi, sliced

 1 avocado, sliced

2 tablespoon sliced almonds

1/2 cup plain greek yogurt

zest of ½ a lime

juice of 1  lime

pinch of salt

2 tablespoon honey

Arrange the lettuce, strawberries, kiwi, avocado and almonds in a salad bowl.

Whisk together the remaining ingredients to form the dressing and drizzle over salad.

*Serves 2

Whether you’re going to a Pagan Beltaine Maypole festival, gathering with friends and family, or spending it more quietly and solitary….Beltaine is a Sabbat to celebrate.  Officially….We are into Spring, and Summer is coming!  Think flowers, gardens, bare feet, less clothes, being outside MORE!!  For many, their favorite time of year!

‘But I must gather knots of flowers,
And buds and garlands gay,
For I’m to be Queen o’ the May, mother,
I’m to be Queen o’ the May.’
–  Alfred Lord Tennyson

 

I wish you all a very Blessed Beltaine!  May the Sun God shine upon you always and May the Goddess always dance with you!

Blessings and love, Autumn

*Don’t forget to type Beltane or Beltaine into the search box on the right to find the last 4 years of info there…recipes, correspondence, rituals etc.

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I <3 Herbs……Yarrow!

Merry Meet my friends. It has been a rainy, dark day today. Thunder and Lightning and I’ve done some dancing with Thor in the storms. I’m so thrilled that we had a couple of beautiful days here though. I got all our clothes washed and hung out on the clothesline to dry. (I LOVE that!) We got a few things done in the yard…some grass seed planted where a dead tree was removed last Fall….we got a birdhouse put up…a new birdbath put out and we bought a couple of hanging baskets of Calabracia to hang on our patio, a deep purple one and a yellow one. I pulled out the rosemary that isn’t coming back 😦 Added garden soil to my raised herb bed etc. All in preparation for planting! Which we can’t do yet! Ack! LOL. Another week or two I think. For sure by Mother’s Day!

Again, this posting about Yarrow can be found at The Sunday Stew here: http://mypaganworld.blogspot.com/2014/04/the-sunday-stew-beltane-edition.html. It’s the Beltaine issue so be sure and check it out!! It’s wonderful!

Beltane is almost here! As I was thinking about which herb I wanted to write about for the Beltane issue of the Stew…I decided on Yarrow. Yarrow is one of those wonderful herbs that grow wild…nearly everywhere! Usually from June thru September in meadows, roadsides, pastures, ditches etc etc. Easily found. Often thought to just be a weed LOL..but it’s so much more!!

 

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Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) grows from 10 to 20 inches high, a single stem, fibrous and rough. The leaves are fern-like, dark-green, giving them a feathery appearance. The flowers are several bunches of numerous small, white flower heads. Each tiny flower resembling a daisy. Depending on the weather and where you live, the flowers bloom from May to September.

For you gardeners out there, growing yarrow is sometimes too easy, as it tends to take over a plot. It creeps along via its root system, while simultaneously reseeding itself. Yarrow prefers ordinary soil and a fair amount of sunshine. Some varieties of yarrow grow up to 4 feet in height. It comes in shades from white to pale pink…to ornamental yellow and red varieties!

Other Names: Milfoil, Old Man’s Pepper, Soldier’s Woundwort, Knight’s Milfoil, Thousand Weed, Nose Bleed, Carpenter’s Weed, Bloodwort, Staunchweed, Devil’s Nettle

Mythology:

Yarrow carries the name Achillea because the Greek God Achilles in mythology is storied to have given the plant to his troops to stop bleeding in battle. Unfortunately, it didn’t stop the bleeding when he hurt his own heel, and he died from his wounds. The modern terms “Achilles tendon” and “Achilles heel” originate from this myth.

Medicinal Uses:

Yarrow has been a well-known healing herb for centuries. It has a wonderful list of healing medicinal purposes!
Parts used….everything above the ground (leaves, stems and flowers)
Harvesting for medicinal purposes should be done while the plant is in flower.
Yarrow is used medicinally against colds and flu, cramps, fevers, stomach ulcers, kidney disorders, toothaches and abscesses, skin irritations, to regulate menses, and to reduce inflammation. It can aid digestion and increase appetite. Yarrow is a diaphoretic and helps to eliminate toxins and fevers. Yarrow’s astringent properties can also help stop diarrhea and dysentery. Other yarrow uses include coughs, sore throats, lowering blood pressure, hay fever, and more.
Externally, clean yarrow leaves can be used to stop a wound from bleeding. A yarrow infused oil or balm can be used to treat other topical skin conditions including burns, ulcers, and swollen and inflamed skin, and hemorrhoids. Inserting a fresh, clean yarrow leaf into the nostril can stop nosebleeds. Yarrow can also, conversely, start bleeding when needed…for instance, getting clotted nose blood, to un-clot.

 

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Medicinal applications:

An infusion (tea) of yarrow flowers can be prepared by steeping the flowers into boiling water for some time. This preparation is useful for upper respiratory illness. It may also be useful to heal eczema when applied externally as a wash. An infusion or tea is also great for reducing fever. To get relief for varicose veins, soak a cotton pad with the infusion and apply to the veins. The poultice will also aid hemorrhoids. You can also put the infusion in bath water to soothe hemorrhoids and skin issues.
Yarrow oil is useful for any external skin issues such as swollen joints, rashes, or bruises. Also great as a chest rub (add peppermint or eucalyptus essential oil) for congestion of the chest..colds, flu or cough.
Cuts and scratches on the body can be healed by wrapping cleansed, fresh yarrow leaves on the affected area. To clean leaves, place in a bowl, pour white vinegar over them…let stand for a bit. Strain off vinegar then rinse leaves twice to ensure all the vinegar is gone. You can also place a chewed leaf on a sore tooth.
A tincture made of Yarrow is useful for healing urinary disorders and menstrual problems.

Warning:
Pregnant women should not use Yarrow internally! Excessive use can cause headaches and skin irritations for anyone who is sensitive to it.

Culinary Uses:
Yarrow is bitter but used sparingly it works in cheese sauces, soups and salads. Has been used in place of hops to brew beer.

Magickal Uses:
Gender: Feminine
Planet: Venus
Element: Air
Yarrow is used magickally for Courage, Love, Psychic abilities, Divination, Perception, Protection and Purification.
Some ways to use Yarrow for magick are:

-When drank as a tea, Yarrow is said to increase psychic powers and powers of perception.
-When flowers or leaves are burned, if the smoke goes up, it’s a good omen, but if it goes down, it’s a bad omen.
-Use Yarrow flowers in love sachets and charms.
-Place Yarrow flowers under your pillow before sleep and your lover will appear in your dreams.
-Hang flowers over your bridal bed to insure love that lasts at least 7 years. Or place them in your bridal bouquet
-Grow Yarrow near your door for protection or hang some over your front door.
-Carried in the hand or placed in a mojo bag….it is believed to ward off fear. Also to reverse negativity and protect from hexes
-Add to the bath to protect from evil or harm.
-Throw Yarrow flowers across the threshold to protect the house from evil.
-Tie to an infant’s cradle for protection from harmful forces. (an old belief too)
-Place the flowers on your altar to aid in divination
-use it in loose incense for protection, purification or divination

These are just a few ways to use Yarrow in Magick. I’m sure you can find many more. Next time you take a walk, look for some yarrow and bring it home and put it to good use!

A sensitive plant in a garden grew,
And the young winds fed it with silver dew,
And it opened its fan-like leaves to the light,
and closed them beneath the kisses of night.
~Percy Bysshe Shelley, “The Sensitive Plant,” 1820

 

I hope that you all are enjoying both the Stew and learning about herbs. I know I learn more and more as I study them and use them too.  I’ll be back in a couple of days to wish you all a very Blessed Beltaine and maybe a recipe 🙂

Blessed New Moon to you all!
Blessings and Love, Autumn

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The Wheel Turns to Yule 2013……..

Perhaps the best Yuletide decoration is being wreathed in smiles. 

imagesCAHWQBRT~Author Unknown

Merry Meet my friends.  I am very late to writing a Yule blog I’m afraid.  Just like all of you, Life is a bit busy right now and time seems to escape me some days.  Winter has settled in early here in Ohio. Right now, there is about 8-9 inches of snow on the ground and we will be in the single digits tonight with a negative wind chill factor!!   But I LOVE Winter!  I love the beauty of the snow, the quiet of the nights, the starry skies, the scent of woodsmoke, and seeing your breath on the Air.  Despite this busy time of year, I find time most every evening to be quiet by the fire, light candles, rest and reflect on the dark months ahead.

Yule is on Dec. 21 this year and it’ll be a quiet celebration as always here at my house.  A nice meal, some time outside, some time at my altar and some time by the fire.  My greens have been brought in just today and adorn bowls and my mantle.  Yule..the Winter Solstice…the longest night of the year.  I find it a beautiful Sabbat…a time in all the hustle and bustle of the holiday celebrations..to focus on what Yule means to us Pagans and Witches.  It marks going into Winter..into the dark time of the year. Mother Earth is at rest and I try to do the same for the Winter months.  It’s a quieter time of year (after the holidays of course!).  Time to read, relax, perhaps work on a project I’ve put off, crafts, organize my home, write etc.  Whatever it is you like to do when you are forced to be inside more.  Now I know that of course life is still going on…work, responsibilities, cooking and cleaning etc…yes…but there is more time at home, more hours of dark to spend nesting and finding time to rest.  Even getting some extra sleep!

I am in search of the perfect Yule log from our woodpile. I’ll dress it with greens and herbs..bless it and burn it!  One of my favorite things to do for Yule is to write down a list of my wishes, hopes, and dreams for the next year. Also, to write down those things I want to let go of…to get out of my life.  After doing the list, I burn it with the Yule log..and know that my wishes go out with Air..by Fire and Earth.

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This year, in our new home, we have a darling little spruce tree we planted over the summer.  My husband put lights on it and it makes a magickal little Yule tree.  This weekend, I’ll be making outdoor ornaments for the tree,  I use yarn or raffia to string cereal and dried fruits.  I use bagel halves, cover them in peanut butter and dip them in birdseed..and even apples and orange cups can be put out there.  My grandkids love this project too!  and of course the birds and squirrels love it too 🙂  Makes me feel good to help our feathered and furry friends over the cold Winter.

Thought I’d post a couple of favorite recipes of mine for this time of year!

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Autumn’s Shortbread Cookies

1 lb butter, softened …salted or unsalted doesn’t really matter

1 cup sugar

4 cups all purpose flour

These are a huge hit at my house and so simple!

Cream butter and sugar until creamy.  Add 2 cups at a time of the flour and blend.  If the dough is a bit dry, add a tablespoon of water.  Spread dough into a jelly roll pan with your hands ….spread it even.  Prick the dough every so often with a fork.

Bake at 350* for about 25 minutes until golden brown.  Remove from oven and cut immediately into squares….then let it cool in the pan.  Enjoy!

*For Yule, I like to sprinkle with green or red sugar crystals before baking!

Gingerbread Pancakes

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground ginger

1 egg

1 1/4 cup milk

1/4 cup molasses

3 TB vegetable oil

Sift together first 6 ingredients in a medium bowl and set aside.  In a large bowl, beat egg & milk until well blended.  Stir in molasses and oil.  Add flour mixture to egg mixture, stirring til moistened.  Pour batter by 1/3 cupfuls onto a lightly greased hot griddle.  Cook until bubby on top, flip and cook til golden brown.

Great with Lemon Sauce!!

1/2 cup sugar

1 TB cornstarch

1/8 tsp ground nutmeg

1 cup water

2 TB butter

1/2 tsp lemon zest

2 Tb lemon juice

Stir together sugar, cornstarch and nutmeg in a small saucepan.  Add water and cook over medium heat until thick and bubbly.

Cook and stir an additional 2 mins

Remove from heat.  Add remaining ingredients and stir until butter is melted

Serve warm over gingerbread pancakes or waffles, or cake!

Hope you enjoy these!  For more recipes and Yule info and correspondence etc..be sure to type in Yule or Winter Solstice in the search box on the right side of this blog. There are many past years of postings!

For now I leave you all with the hopes that you are finding time to BREATHE, RELAX, and be QUIET now and then during this busy time of year.  It’s so easy to get caught up in the hectic hustle and bustle….but pause now and then and remember what the Season is really all about.  The Solstice..the longest night…..the passing of the Holly King and the Re-birth of the Oak King…and Mother Earth frozen and slumbering.  But it means that already the days will grow longer and the Sun will strengthen and warm, and Earth will begin to stir!  Blessed Be!

   “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!!”
–   Susan Cooper,
The Shortest Day

Blessings and Love,  Autumn

Wreath picture from the internet..unknown source.  Other two pictures are my own.

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