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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 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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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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The Wheel Turns to Imbolc 2016……

“Winter is the time of promise because there is so little to do – or because you can now and then permit yourself the luxury of thinking so.” 
–  Stanley Crawford

 

imagesMerry Meet!  I hope this writing finds you doing well.  There has been some crazy weather everywhere.  Big snowstorms, flooding, earthquakes, tornadoes..you name it..it’s been out there.  We’ve had none of that lol.  As a matter of fact, we’ve had very little snow, still, which is unusual for Ohio and we are warming up into the 50’s for the next few days.  But, still, I know Imbolc comes.  If you truly watch nature..the rising and setting of Moon and Sun, the habits of birds and critters, the trees and plants…you know.

I have been a very busy Witch preparing for Imbolc.  It’s been all about a serious purging of un-wanted and un-needed items from this house.  It feels so good to have less things taking up space in drawers, closets and cupboards. Even knick knacks, things hanging on the walls, and old throw rugs and blankets are going.  I can’t recommend this enough.  I’ve talked about it before, and I’ve done it many times.  But this is the MOST I’ve ever done.  I truly believe I could become almost a minimalist lol.  It’s a great way to cleanse and clean to prepare for Imbolc and well…just Spring cleaning if you prefer.

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I’m unfortunately having that surgery Monday, so I’ll be celebrating Imbolc on Sunday. Imbolc by the way is February 2.  There will be a fire, lots of candles, a feast, and offerings.  I do honor Brighid for this, Her Sabbat, and will do both altar work and another ritual I’ve talked about before.  Before midnight I turn off all the lights in the house and have lots of candles going throughout.  At midnight, I throw open the doors, invite Brighid to come in and bring all the good things that She does…protection, craftsmanship, prosperity, inspiration, healing, growth, renewal and light.  She is always welcome on my Path and in my home.  I then use my broom to sweep out all the negative, old, stale energy from my home and turn on lights as I go along to each room.  It’s such a lovely ritual, gives me a sense of peace and joy. I will often read a bit of poetry, be sure to wear my silver jewelry, and send out healing energy to those I love in need.  Brighid is an amazing Goddess.  If you aren’t familiar with Her, you might want to be.  I’m reading the book “Tending Brighid’s Flame” by Lunea Weatherstone and highly recommend it! You’ll learn a LOT!

The foods that represent Imbolc are seeds like pumpkin, sunflower, poppy, flax, sesame. Also raisins, dairy foods, spicy foods, pork, lamb, spiced wines, breads, cakes, muffins, pancakes, scones etc. I would add anything made with milk as Imbolc means “ewe’s milk.”   I’ve posted lots of recipes for all the Sabbats, including Imbolc.  To find them, just use the search box on the right side of this page and type in Imbolc recipes or Imbolc.   I thought I’d share a few more here.

 

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Oatmeal Buttermilk Muffins

1 cup quick-cooking oats
1-1/4 cups buttermilk
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 cup raisins

Preheat oven to 400*. In a small bowl, combine oats and buttermilk. In a small bowl, combine the egg, brown sugar and oil; stir in oat mixture. Combine the dry ingredients; stir into batter just until moistened. Fold in raisins.
Fill greased or paper-lined muffin cups three-fourths full. Bake at 400° for 15-18 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes before removing from pan to a wire rack.

Yield: 1 dozen.

 

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Slow Cooked Hot Spiced Wine

2 cinnamon sticks (3 inches)
3 whole cloves
2 bottles (750 milliliters each) dry red wine
3 medium tart apples, peeled and sliced
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon lemon juice

Place cinnamon sticks and cloves on a double thickness of cheesecloth. Gather corners of cloth to enclose seasonings; tie securely with string.

In a 3-qt. slow cooker, combine remaining ingredients. Add spice bag. Cook, covered, on low 4-5 hours or until heated through. Discard spice bag. Serve warm.

Yield: 8 servings

 

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Honey Wheat Sunflower Bread

2 cups warm water (120° to 130°)
2-3/4 to 3-1/4 cups all-purpose or bread flour
2 packages (1/4 ounce each) active dry yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup old-fashioned oats
1/3 cup nonfat dry milk powder
1/4 cup butter, melted and cooled
1/4 cup honey
2 teaspoons salt
1 cup unsalted sunflower kernels

In a bowl, combine the water, 2 cups all-purpose or bread flour, yeast and sugar. Beat on low speed for 3 minutes. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 30 minutes. (Mixture will be spongy.)
Stir in the whole wheat flour, oats, milk powder, butter, honey and salt; mix well. Stir in sunflower kernels and as much of the remaining all-purpose or bread flour as you can with a spoon. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes. Shape into a ball. Place in a greased bowl; turn once. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 30-45 minutes.
Punch down and divide in half. Cover and let rest for 10 minutes. Shape into two loaves; place in two greased 8-in. x 4-in. loaf pan. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 30 minutes. Bake at 375° for 20 minutes. Cover with foil; bake 15 minutes longer. Remove from pans and cool on wire racks.

Yield: 2 loaves (16 slices each).

My recommendation…make soup with the breads!  Especially nice on a snowy day, or your Imbolc cleaning day or even just for the day itself.  For some great soup recipes, you’ll find them in that search I talked about for Imbolc 🙂 There is nothing better than the scent of soup and warm baked bread on a Winter day…truly.

I wish you all a very blessed Imbolc for you and your loved ones.  May the rest of Winter be kind to you, may you find peace and joy in the quiet times, and know that Spring isn’t too far away.

 

“I stood beside a hill
Smooth with new-laid snow,
A single star looked out
From the cold evening glow.
There was not other creature
That saw what I could see,
I stood and watched the evening star
As long as it watched me.”
– Sara Teasdale, February Twilight

 

Blessings and Love, 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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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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Blessed Samhain 2015 and Recipes!…………

Merry Meet my friends!  It’s Thursday morning and Samhain is Saturday. I can’t believe how fast October has flown by! Too fast!  I’m sitting in my family room, listening to a Halloween Radio staA-BLessed-Samhain-To-Yoution on Pandora, watching leaves blowing around my yard, the Sun shining and birds at the feeders and chipmunks and squirrels gathering.  It’s a gorgeous day after two days of much needed rain.  Quite cool, quite autumnal, and I’m feeling happy and blessed.

My gardens are a wild mess. The last of the Autumn flowers are spent.  The tall grasses are brown and dry.  Some herbs have re-bloomed like parsley, thyme and lemon balm.  (I’ll be grabbing those yet)  My rosemary and lavender are still healthy and useful as I trim some rosemary for my ancestor altar and Ancestor Supper table. There are dried leaves gathered in the beds that will remain to keep warm the plants over the long Winter, and fresh, bright colored leaves are still falling, littering the ground and beds with reds, oranges, and golds. I took a walk in my favorite park that has a beautiful pond.  Watching the geese fly over under blue, clear skies,  the leaves floating in the pond, the bright trees and Sun casting mirror images on the water, I’m reminded of how Mother Earth is winding down to the dark, stark season in a blaze of color and beauty. I never have the feeling it’s a death and dying thing..but a show of how beautiful the seasons are.  No matter the season, they each have their own beauty.  While Autumn to me is the most beautiful, Winter too can be stunningly filled with beauty and I am not sad that Winter comes.

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I have enjoyed the energy of the Full Moon these last few nights, even though I couldn’t see Her the night she was at her fullest.  The foggy, rainy days reminded me of the thinning veil. The mystical, quietness of this time of year, if you’re still enough to notice it.  I’ve been having strong, vivid dreams and vacillate between sleeping hard and feeling restless in the night. How are you feeling? Perhaps tired and restless?  Or calm and filled with energy? I find I’m energized most of the time in Autumn, but an evening by the fire can make me feel drowsy and content.  I find my loved ones who have passed on are very much on my mind and I’m trying to be aware of any messages they may be bringing for me, to be aware of their being close to me, and to leave myself open to any other guides/spirits who may be needing my attention as well.  I keep a dream journal and I’m jotting down anything I remember when I awake. My scrying mirror, tarot cards and candle and fire flames are readily available to such purposes of receiving any messages. As I said in my last post, I find being still and meditative, even drowsy, can bring me closer, easier to my loved ones.

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My coven gathers tomorrow night. Always such a high energy, loving, magickal night. We’ll be doing an ancestor ritual, welcoming in the New Year together, with feast and fire. While we enjoy every Sabbat gathering, and every other gathering, Samhain is always just the best one.  The energy of Samhain is very much within us as a Tribe.  I love my sisters!

I have been visiting some books lately for the Season.  Classics like Edgar Allan Poe poems and “The Halloween Tree” and getting ready to read “The Picture of Dorian Gray”.  I also have been enjoying movies like “Hocus Pocus”, “Sleepy Hollow”, and “The Good Witch” movies.  My daughter, our friend and I saw “The Goosebumps” movie last night and enjoyed it very much!  I love both books and movies during this entire holiday season, from Samhain to Yule.  Music too.  They just put me in the mood!  What are your favorite spooky books or movies?

Cooking and Baking also is such a big part of the holidays for me.  Autumn is especially lovely with warm soups and breads, apple and pumpkin desserts, and hot drinks with cinnamon and spice.  If you do a search in the box on the right here —–> you can find previous Samhain recipes for the last 5 years.  I’m going to add a couple more today.  Also, if you saw my last post, you may have been checking out Samhain’s Sirens and The Sunday Stew for other recipes from myself and others for the Season.  For many, All Hallow’s Eve will bring to mind a witch stirring her cauldron 🙂 Well, yes, that’s me!  Conjuring in my kitchen! I may have a soup or hot cider in my cauldron, or I may have herbs and a smoking charcoal just as easily. If you don’t have a nice cauldron to actually use in your kitchen..I highly recommend a Potje pot.  They come in all sizes and are wonderful!

As a reminder of the foods for Samhain, they are :  Apples, pumpkin pie, pomegranate, pumpkin, squash, hazelnuts, corn, bread, ale, apple cider and herbal tea. Here are a couple of new recipes to fit the bill. One is healthy and one is just sweet and yummy!

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Spinach Pomegranate Salad

3/4 cup unsweetened pomegranate juice
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon minced fresh thyme leaves
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
5 ounces spinach leaves (about 2 lightly packed qts.)
3/4 cup finely shredded radicchio (from 1 head)
1/2 cup pomegranate seeds
1/2 cup coarsely chopped toasted hazelnuts
1 large firm-ripe Bartlett pear

In a small saucepan, boil pomegranate juice until reduced to 1/4 cup, 5 to 6 minutes. Let cool. Whisk in lemon juice, oil, salt, thyme, and pepper.
In a salad bowl, gently mix spinach, radicchio, pomegranate seeds, and hazelnuts with dressing. Divide among 6 plates.
Quarter pear and core. Thinly slice crosswise, then stack slices and cut in matchsticks. Arrange pear on salads.

*To make this salad a full meal, add grilled chicken strips onto the salad and a good crusty bread!

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Sour Cream-Apple Pie

a 9″ pie crust…your own homemade or refrigerated store bought

2 cups apples, peeled, cored and chopped (use your favorite baking apple)

1 cup sugar, divided

1/3 cup plus 2 Tbs all-purpose flour, divided

1/4 tsp salt

1 cup sour cream

1 egg, beaten

1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1 Tb ground cinnamon

2 Tb butter

Place pie crust in a 9″ pie plate; arrange apples in bottom of pie crust.

Combine 2/3 cup sugar, 2 Tbs flour and salt in a large bowl; stir to mix.  Add sour cream, egg and vanilla.  Beat with an electric mixer at medium speed until smooth.  Pour mixture over apples.

Bake at 425* for 15 minutes; reduce heat to 350* and bake 30 more minutes.

Combine in a small bowl the remaining flour, sugar, cinnamon and butter. Sprinkle over top of pie.  Increase heat back to 400* and bake 10 more minutes.  Remove and cool.  Of course, eating it warm is perfect!

*If you’d rather use thinly sliced apples, that is okay too.

Well there you go for a couple of great new recipes.  Again, you can find so many more of my recipes in previous postings.  Whether you’re looking for a simple soup meal, a big feast or just something sweet, you’ll find it here 🙂 Enjoy!

I want to wish you all a very Blessed Samhain and Happy Witchy New Year.  May your ancestors be blessed by how you live YOUR life, how you honor them and how you loved those you knew who have passed beyond the veil.  And may YOU be blessed with a full new year of wonderful things ahead!  Remember to let go that which no longer suits or has meaning or purpose, and find joy in what is to come.  Make it GREAT!

“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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