Sunday, September 21, 2014

Must Be the Season of the Witch

IT'S FALL!!!!!!!!!  A very blessed autumn equinox to those of you in the northern hemisphere!  I have a gathering to go to this evening.  I'm working on my potluck offerings and getting ready to have a shower.

I made butternut squash lasagna, stuffed peppers, and I will make Persephone's Salad shortly before we go.  I hope you all are having or have had a lovely celebration.

Let's get ready for Samhain!  

Thursday, September 18, 2014

My Tarot Collection...So Far

This is a really quick 'n' dirty video I did to show the decks I have so far.  I have only recently begun to get back into reading cards.  I was pretty good once upon a time, but a decade or so can really change things, wouldn't you say?

The sound and photos synced up fine when I put the video together, but something happened on the way to YouTube.   Also, my voice sounds like crap.  I'm a bit under the weather today.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

S is for Samhain

Long before I knew about Samhain, Halloween was my favorite holiday.  It trumped even Christmas in my young mind, and it wasn’t just because of the candy and costumes.  There  was something different about Halloween night.  Something seemed magical about the end of October, with its cool, crisp days and early darkness.  I always sensed excitement in the air.  Years later, when I began to discover my personal path to the Divine, I learned about Samhain. 

Summer’s End, the last harvest, was – and still is – a very significant time in the wheel of the year. For many, it was a time to make sure there was enough food to last through the dark days of winter.  It is a time when the veil between our world and the spirit world is so thin that our ancestors could return for a visit.  It is a time to celebrate many things – the season of introspection, the end of the year, the cycle of birth, death, and rebirth, and the harvest of the earth’s bounty.

It’s at this time of year that we most feel the presence of those who have gone before us.  For days or weeks before Samhain, the very air seems to change. In my house, sometimes strange things happen. These little occurrences make me think that the spirits are trying to communicate. 

Unfortunately, Samhain sneaks up on me most years. I have plans, and then I get really busy with work and don't get a chance to do much. This year, however, Samhain comes at the end of the week, and I can devote the weekend to celebrating.  

Some of the things I'd like to do is to hold a mute supper, but that plan is for when I actually have more space.  I can't even see my kitchen table, much less use it.  It's become a catch-all for crap, just like every other flat surface in this place.  SOOOOOO...this year, my Samhain plans involve cleaning and decluttering the joint.   Before Samhain arrives, I will have donated clothes and other unused items to Goodwill.  I'll also hopefully have given the place a good scrub and smudge.  

As for the actual remembering of the ancestors,  I intend to do what we started last year.  Since I don't have a lot of photos here, I am going to get a piece of poster board and write down the names of family members and friends who have passed to the other side of the veil.  The act of writing their names will bring remembrance.  I will also make the rosemary remembrance cookies I like to make but haven't in a while.  I have a spiffy new pomegranate-shaped cookie cutter to use for this.  I have also made a wreath. 

Another idea that might be nice is the Ancestors' Toast.  It's simple enough - just grab a cup of your favorite libation, toast your ancestors, and share stories about them or advice they've given you over the years.  Drink and repeat.  If you're using an alcoholic libation, you might want to use small cups or shot glasses so you don't end up joining the ancestors due to alcohol poisoning...

What are some of your ideas?  Do you have a menu planned yet?  I might use the same menu as last year.  

Last year, I made:

Crock pot cabbage rolls
Roasted chicken
Roasted potatoes
Brussels sprout gratin
Rye bread with caraway seeds
Green Man Cake - a chocolate-hazelnut torte

Friday, September 12, 2014

S is for Samhain

What can I say about Samhain that hasn't already been said?  It's one of my very favorite days of the year, one that I try to carry with me throughout the rest of the calendar year.  

Have some truly terrible Samhain haiku:

Samhain is the time
For our ancestors to come
As we honor them

Samhain is coming
It’s the season of the witch
When our souls can shine

Samhain is a day
In which we can raise power
To carry all year

A magical day
One of wonder and delight
The veil thins this night

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Double Layer Pumpkin Spice Latte Cheesecake

So, I made a thing:  

Pardon my crappy pictures, but I took them just a little bit ago.  It's 4:23 am right now.

I think the drink is vile, but I thought it would translate well to cheesecake form.  It did!  OMG this cheesecake is sooooooooo creamy and rich. I didn't use too much sugar, either.  You can kind of see the individual layers, but the colors are pretty similar.

·         1 box gingersnaps, finely crushed  (I had about 1 ½ cups of crumbs)
·         6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
Mix butter and gingersnap crumbs and press into bottom and partially up the sides of a 9” spring form pan.

Latte Layer:
·         20 oz. softened cream cheese (2 ½ packages)
·         2 eggs
·         ½ cup sour cream
·         1 ½ tablespoons espresso powder
·         1 ½ teaspoons vanilla
·         ¾ cup sugar

Pumpkin Spice Layer:
·         20 oz. softened cream cheese
·         2 eggs
·         ½ cup sour cream
·         1 8-oz. can pumpkin puree
·         1 cup sugar
·         1 ½ tablespoons pumpkin pie spice
·         1 ½ teaspoons vanilla

Preheat oven to 325 F.
Combine ingredients for latte layer until smooth.  A food processor works best.  Spoon into the crust.
Combine ingredients for pumpkin spice layer until smooth. Spoon evenly and gently on top of latte layer.
Wrap bottom of pan in foil Place pan in a water bath.  I used a large skillet for this, but you could use a roasting pan or whatever the spring form will fit in.  (Heat some water and pour about ½ - ¾ inch into the other pan.)

Bake cheesecake at 325 for about  1 ¾ hours, until middle is set.  Run a knife around the edge. Remove from roasting pan/skillet.  Cool.  Chill in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours.   

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Autumn is a-cumen in!

September is a little more than a day away here.  Are you as excited as I am?  Temperatures are still pretty warm, but thunderstorms are coming to cool us down a bit.  Mabon will soon be here, and then...Samhain!  The countdown to Samhain began ages ago for me, but I'm not about to forget the autumn equinox, oh, no!

Our second harvest festival in the northern hemisphere, the autumn equinox/Mabon is a time to start turning inward a bit more.  It's a time to start focusing on things we want to get rid of at the end of the year, a time to meditate on future goals, and a time to really start connecting more with our inner selves.  It's a time to get in touch with our spirituality and prepare for the long, dark winter.

At my parents' house, it's a time for canning and freezing everything from the garden.  Tomatoes, peppers, and green beans are being preserved in jars. Pickles have been made.  Corn is going into the freezer.  My parents are enjoying delicious turnips, raw with salt and pepper.  Here, since I have no garden, I am getting ready to de-clutter the house.  I have bundles of clothes to give away, books to organize, and other assorted bits of junk to get rid of.

Celebrating the second harvest and enjoying the beginning of autumn are joyful activities. The air will soon grow cool and crisp. The days are already noticeably shorter.  Pumpkins already decorate the front of the grocery store.  Today, I baked a pumpkin spice latte cheesecake. The time is nigh!

Below is a list of activities and foods for the autumn equinox. If you're having trouble thinking of ideas for decorations, activities, or dishes, perhaps it will help you.

Mabon  Ideas for Heart and Home

·         Simmer water with cinnamon sticks and whole cloves on the stove.

·         Smudge with rosemary, sage, and thyme.  Simmer some of the herbs in water and add it to your mop water.  Clean the floors, counters, and cabinet doors.  Add some sea salt for extra protection and cleansing.

·         Decorate with autumn leaf gardens that you can purchase from a craft store.

·         Place leaves on a canvas or piece of foam board. Dip an old toothbrush into some orange, red, brown, and yellow paint.  Splatter. Remove the leaves.

·         Can the rest of the fresh green beans and tomatoes.  Make pesto with the last of the summer basil and freeze it.  Freeze the corn.  Hang bundles of herbs to dry.

·         Fall cleaning.  Get rid of clutter and give away anything you don’t use or wear.

·         Make a besom. Scent with cinnamon oil.

·         Meditate on Persephone’s descent into the Underworld.  Eat pomegranate seeds while doing this.
·         Harvest seeds.  

·         Think of your goals for the coming year.

·         Think of what you want to get rid of at Samhain. What is cluttering your mind and your life?

·         Make corn dollies.

·         Make dried apples for snacks and decoration.

·         Decorate the altar with bundles of corn.  Hollow out apples to use as candle holders. 

·         Squash soup
·         Corn bread
·         Apple pie, crumble, or cake
·         Pinto beans cooked with smoked ham
·         Sauteed  greens
·         Stuffed onions
·         Sweet potatoes – mashed, baked, in pie form