Archive for October, 2012


 

I made a batch of slightly-modified soul cakes for today.

3/4 cup butter
3/4 cup extra fine/caster sugar
3 egg yolks
4 cups sifted flour
1 tsp mixed spice (recipe below)
1 tsp allspice (recipe below)
3 tbsp currants or raisins
1/2 to 1 cup milk

Cream the butter and sugar together until pale in color and fluffy in texture.
Beat in the egg yolks.
Fold in the sifted flour and spices.
Stir in currants.
Add enough milk to make the dough soft.
Form into flat cakes and mark each top with a cross. **I chose to roll out the dough and cut out circles**
Bake on a greased or non-stick cookie sheet until golden brown.

When I got this recipe, there were no instructions as far as bake time. my guess was 350 degrees for about 25 minutes.
The time will definitely depend on how thick you make these cakes.
And, really, why cakes? These really came out more as cookies than anything.
Despite the misnomer, these turned out great. They were much like a hybrid gingerbread/shortbread cookie, and they go great with coffee, tea, or hot chocolate.

Allspice
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground clove
1/4 tsp ground ginger

Mixed Spice
1 Tbsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp ground cloves

Bonus recipe: Pumpkin Brownies!
This is a quicky for folks like me who don’t always have time to be in the kitchen.

1 box of your favorite brownie mix
1 15oz. can of pumpkin goo (puree)
1 tsp allspice
1/2-1 cup of heavy whipping cream

Mix the brownie powder with the allspice.
Fold in the pumpkin goo
This gets super-thick, so as it gets more difficult to mix, slowly add the cream until the mixture gets smooth.
Follow the box directions for time and tempurature. If they box calls for a 9×13 pan, though, use something slightly smaller (unless you want really thin brownies).

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A Prayer for Grandma

Bind this sick person to Heaven,
for from Earth she is being torn away!

Of the brave person who was so strong,
the strength has departed.

Of the righteous servant,
the force does not return.
In this bodily frame she lies dangerously ill.

But Ishtar, who in her dwelling,
is grieved concerning this being,
descends from her mountain unvisited of humans.

To the door of this sick person she comes.
The sick person listens!
Who is there? Who comes?

It is Ishtar, daughter of the Moon God!
Like pure silver may this garment be shining white!
Like brass may she be radiant!

To the Sun, greatest of the gods, may she ascend!
And may the Sun, greatest of the gods,
receive this soul into these holy hands!

My husband’s grandmother is sick.
We only recently found out. And tonight we got the call.
Cancer.

The same beast that took my grandfather, and so many more, is back. She’s in the hospital now, and is refusing treatment.. My father-in-law just came to pick up J to see her. Mom is there already. They don’t expect it to be long, and there isn’t much they can do but make her comfortable.

Grandma is a strong woman, a stubborn woman, and I love her.
She has a heart so full of compassion and love for not just those close to her, but complete strangers. She supervises the rec. center in her trailer park community, so the kids in the area have a safe place to go. Yeah, she’s that kind of woman.

I lost my maternal grandfather a few years ago, and both paternal grandparents more recently – within a few days of one another.
J lost both of his grandfathers within about a month of each other the same year mom’s dad passed.
His other grandmother was the most recent to pass away.

So we were each left with one grandma.
There’s really something special about that generation of women. I don’t know that I could even explain it, but it’s there.

I wish I could be there with them right now.
I wish I could stay by J’s side for comfort. Not just for him, but for me, as well.
And for her.

Tomorrow is going to be rough, no matter the outcome.
I work with J’s sister…. my guess is that she will be at the hospital tonight, too.
I think I might have to bring in some chocolate. And maybe some beer.
::sigh::

Deep Peace to You
Deep peace of the running wave to you.
Deep peace of the flowing air to you.
Deep peace of the quiet earth to you.
Deep peace of the shining stars to you.
Deep peace of the infinite peace to you.

 – Adapted from Ancient Gaelic Runes –

http://fucknosexisthalloweencostumes.tumblr.com/

I just don’t get it. I mean, I’m all for people wearing what they want. If someone (guy or gal) wants to wear a revealing costume, fine, that’s their thing.
My problem is that of the costumes available to women, the majority of them are slutty erm… “sexy”.
I’m sorry, but uh, sexy Bert, Ernie, Twixt bar? No. Slutty Ninja Turtle? I had a homemade TMNT costume that looked badass and was not revealing in the least. Granted, I was a kid, but it was soooo awesome. I could completely re-make that costume for my size now and still look good.

Again, I am not against sexy costuming (much like the blog’s author).
I would just like to see options that aren’t so skimpy.
Why can’t a sexy outfit feature pants? Or sleaves?
Halloween gets friggin’ cold up here in Minnesota. All of my childhood costumes were designed to fit over a snowsuit. I should at least be able to stay warm enough to keep my own nipples attached to their proper places.

So… because of this post, I did a quick Google image search for “Women’s Star Wars Costumes”.
This is what I got…. Nerd-girl rage.

I’m not upset about the sexy costumes or anything, but that red shirt makes me sad.

 

ETA: http://takebackhalloween.org/
Because it’s awesome.

One of my facebook friends posted this on her wall today, and I couldn’t help but agree with the sentiment.

“I wish my moderate Republican friends would simply be honest. They all say they’re voting for Romney because of his economic policies (tenuous and ill-formed as they are), and that they disagree with him on gay rights. Fine. Then look me in the eye, speak with a level clear voice, and say,” My taxes and take-home pay mean more than your fundamental civil rights, the sanctity of your marriage, your right to visit an ailing spouse in the hospital, your dignity as a citizen of this country, your healthcare, your right to inherit, the mental welfare and emotional well-being of your youth, and your very personhood.” It’s like voting for George Wallace during the Civil Rights movements, and apologizing for his racism. You’re still complicit. You’re still perpetuating anti-gay legislation and cultural homophobia. You don’t get to walk away clean, because you say you “disagree” with your candidate on these issues.”
— Doug Wright, Pulitzer and Tony Award winning playwright

I recently got into a debate – not an argument, surprisingly – with a friend of a friend over the whole thing. His agrument was “Where does it end?”. I’m sorry, but that’s a silly argument. Just because two adults of the same gender want to marry, that doesn’t mean that we’d let folks marry animals or children or lamps.

State-recognized marriage is a legal, civil contract between two consenting adults. It has nothing to do with any religion. If you want your church to also recognize your marriage, that’s fine too. The fact is that marriage is not solely a Christian institution. This is not a difficult concept.

On that note:
I understand that churches are exclusionary institutions, and may say no to couples wanting to marry for any number of reasons (my mother was denied becuase she was divorced from my father). So, I understand that a church would refuse to marry a couple because they were same-sex. I don’t have to agree with it, but that is their choice. The state cannot make them marry anyone.

I’m in a bit of a mood… It’s been a rough couple of days.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

 

I am what I am. I would tell you what you want to know if I could, for you have been kind to me. But I am a cat, and no cat anywhere ever gave anyone a straight answer.

 

Samain or Samuin was the name of the festival marking the beginning of winter in medieval Ireland. It is attested in some of the earliest literture, dating back as far as the 10th century. It was one of four Gaelic seasonal festivals: Samhain (~1 November), Imbolc (~1 February), Beltane (~1 May) and Lughnasadh (~1 August). Samhain and Beltane, at the opposite sides of the year from each other, are thought to have been the most important.

Samhain was one of the four main festivals of the Gaelic calendar, marking the last harvest and beginning of winter. It was a time to take stock of the herds and food supplies. Cattle were brought down to the winter pastures after six months in the higher summer pastures. And it was also the time to choose which animals would need to be slaughtered for the people to survive the winter. This custom is still observed by many who farm and raise livestock because it is when meat will keep since the freeze has come and also since summer grass is gone and free foraging is no longer possible.

Samhain is known by most folks as Halloween, but for Wiccans and Pagans it’s considered a Sabbat to honor the ancestors who came before us. It’s a good time to contact the spirit world with a seance, because it’s the time when the veil between this world and the next is at its thinnest.

By Sanhain, the Goddess has entered her incarnation of Crone. She is the Old One, the earth mother, the wise one we turn to when we need advice. She teaches us that sometimes we must let go in order to move on. The God, at Samhain, is the Horned One, the stag of great antlers, the god of the wild hunt. He is the animal that dies so that we may eat, and the grains and corn that once lived in the field before our harvest. We can honor these late-fall aspects of both the Goddess and the God in one ritual.

How To Celebrate the Cycle of Life and Death

  1. For this ritual, you’ll want to decorate your altar with symbols of life and death. You’ll want to have on hand a white candle and a black one, as well as black, red, and white ribbon in equal lengths (one set for each participant). Finally, you’ll need a few sprigs of rosemary.

    Perform this rite outside if at all possible. If you normally cast a circle, do so now.

  2. Say:
    “Samhain is here, and it is a time of transitions. The winter approaches, and the summer dies. This is the time of the Dark Mother, a time of death and of dying. This is the night of our ancestors and of the Ancient Ones.”

    Place the rosemary on the altar. If you are doing this as a group ceremony, pass it around the circle before placing on the altar. Say:
    “Rosemary is for remembrance, and tonight we remember those who have lived and died before us, those who have crossed through the veil, those who are no longer with us. We will remember.”

  3. Turn to the north, and say:
    “The north is a place of cold, and the earth is silent and dark. Spirits of the earth, we welcome you, knowing you will envelope us in death.”

    Turn to face the east, and say:
    “The east is a land of new beginnings, the place where breath begins. Spirits of air, we call upon you, knowing you will be with us as we depart life.”

  4. Face south, saying:
    “The south is a land of sunlight and fire, and your flames guide us through the cycles of life. Spirits of fire, we welcome you, knowing you will transform us in death.”

    Finally, turn to face the west, and say:
    “The west is a place of underground rivers, and the sea is a never-ending, rolling tide. Spirits of water, we welcome you, knowing you will carry us through the ebbs and flows of our life.”

  5. Light the black candle, saying:
    “The Wheel of the Year turns once more, and we cycle into darkness.”

    Next, light the white candle, and say:
    “At the end of that darkness comes light. And when it arrives, we will celebrate once more.”

  6. Each person takes a set of ribbons — one white, one black, and one red. Say:
    “White for life, black for death, red for rebirth. We bind these strands together remembering those we have lost.”

    Each person should then braid or knot their three ribbons together. As you do so, focus on the memories of those you have lost in your life.

  7. While everyone is braiding or knotting, say:
    “Please join me in chanting as you work your energy and love into your cords:

    As the corn will come from grain,
    All that dies will rise again.
    As the seeds grow from the earth,
    We celebrate life, death and rebirth.”
    When everyone has finished braiding and chanting, take a moment to meditate on the cycle of life, death, and rebirth. Is there someone you know who reminds you of a person you’ve lost? Have you ever looked into a baby’s eyes and seen your late grandfather looking back?

  8. Finally, ask everyone to take their knotted ribbons home with them and place them on their personal altar if they have one. That way, they can be reminded of their loved ones each time they pass by.

Tips:

  1. Rosemary is used in this rite because although it seems to go dormant over the winter, if you keep it in a pot you’ll get new growth in the spring. If there’s another plant you’d rather use, feel free.

What You Need

  • Ribbon in black, red and white
  • A white candle and a black one
  • Rosemary

Soul Cakes

These are part of the traditional English Hallowe’en festivities. Traditionally these were flat round cakes flavoured with saffron, mixed spices and currants. Indeed, during the 19th and early 20th centuries children would go ‘souling’ on All Souls’ Day (November 2nd) where they would request alms or soul cakes with the following song:

“A soul, a soul, a soul cake. Please god missus a soul cake. An apple, a pear, a plum or a cherry, Any good thing to make us merry. Up with your kettles and down with your pans Give us an answer and we’ll be gone Little Jack, Jack sat on his gate Crying for butter to butter his cake One for St Peter, two for St Paul, Three for the man who made us all.”

Soul Cakes were also part of All Saints’ Eve superstitions. It was believed that the spirits of the departed would return to their homes on this night. As a result candles were lit to guide their way and food and drink (including soul cakes) were put out for them.

 

Soul Cakes

A good pinch of saffron
Warm milk
6 oz. butter
6 oz. caster sugar (a sugar that is finer than granulated but coarser than powdered)
3 egg yolks
1 lb. plain flour
pinch of salt
1 teaspoon mixed spice
3 oz currants

Pre-set oven to 350 degrees F. Soak saffron in a little warmed milk. Cream butter and sugar. Beat in egg yolks. Sieve flour, salt, and spices together and add to mixture. Lastly add currants and drained saffron milk. Add more milk if necessary, to make a soft dough. Make into flat cakes, mark each one across top, and bake on a greased baking tray in pre-heated oven for about 15 minutes or until brown. (
_The National Trust Book of Christmas & Festive Day Recipes_, by Sara Paston-Williams.)

Darn books bein’ all…. learny and stuff.

 

Malala Yousafzai shot this week for defending her right to an education.
This 14-year-old girl has become a global icon, as well she should, for her courage and strength.

Adventures and Musings of an Arch Druidess

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I don’t usually like to leave my blog posts as just pictures. I do it occasionally, because some images are just that good.
Like these.
Mmmmmm…..

    

Truth.

Happy Saturday!

Something like 15 years ago, I met Lisa, who would become one of my best friends.
We got along so well that she went on to be my personal attendant at my (very small) wedding, and I was the matron of honor at hers.

There were periods, as is the case of most relationships, of ups and downs. We’d never really fought, but our lives went different directions and time was a commodity that neither of us had. The wonders of technology kept us in fairly regular contact though, even when we could physically talk to one another.

Over the course of our friendship, we introduced each other to our friends. In most cases, I got along well with hers (except for that neo-nazi groupd her ex ran with, those guys were dipshits). My friends tolerated her… she does have an emo/woe-is-me kind of attitude some days. One friend in particular, James, became a member of our core group for a while. We’d meet up at the bar or at shows and dinner. We had a good thing.
Lisa really like James, but he didn’t share those feelings.

Flash forward a few years.
Lisa has a fiance, a wonderful man who cares deeply for her.
James has a fiance. She’s a fantastic woman. She and I bonded almost instantly – we have quite a few things in common, dance being one of them.

The first time the girls met, there was apparently some kind of misunderstanding and now they don’t like each other. Now, it’s not that they hate each other, but they just don’t have things in common.

James and his lady asked me to be  part of their wedding as a groomswoman. I was absolutely floored.
In part, it was a HUGE honor to be a part of their day. It was a bit of a shock, as I didn’t know her very well, and James and I had only recently reconnected. We had kept in touch, but the hanging-out bit didn’t happen much for any of us over the last 2 years.
Still, I was more than happy to stand up there for my friend.

Lisa wasn’t invited to the wedding. James was afraid she’d make a scene.
I didn’t find out until much later that there had been a phone conversation that did not end well.

Now, Lisa has been trying to make me feel guilty about maintaining my friendship with James and his wife. She’s made it out to be that I owe her something because we’ve been friends longer and I wouldn’t even know James if it weren’t for her.
I flat out asked her if she thought I couldn’t be freinds with them both. There was no satisfactory response to that.

It’s been about a month since our last conversation. I needed to cool my head…. and it was a bit of a power play.
She needed to see that what she was doing was hurtful to me. Their “fight” is just that – theirs. I don’t feel like I should be punished.

After that fairly long cold shoulder, I extended an olive branch and asked if Lisa wanted to get lunch.
In the course of the conversation about when and where, I got this:

Oh, I forgot to mention… James and his wife have a daughter, who was born a week ago – about 6 weeks early.
Now, the jump from “you were a groomswoman” to “are you the godmother” is kind of a big one.
And, the jump from dinner, to “by the way, are they making you responsible for their spawn?” is also a pretty big leap.
W.T.F.?

I’ve been doing my very best to stay neutral. In some cases, though, I go on the defensive for James and his wife.
But I don’t know that I can keep doing it.
It’s exhausting.
And now I don’t know what to expect this weekend.
Aaaaarrrrrggggghhhhh!!!!!!

I whole-heartedly agree.

Diary of a VirginWhore

This evening I was watching BBC4’s documentary on theories about what existed before the Big Bang (which, as the documentary reveals, may have been a slow inflation, a bouncing back of a shrunken universe, or the other end of a black hole.) A female scientist appeared on the documentary, expounding a theory which I barely understand. I had a sudden realisation that her career, theories, achievements, childhood, dreams, hobbies and relationships could be completely negated by the word “slut”.

Because that is what the word slut does. That is what it means – that no matter what you’ve achieved, no matter the nuances and complexities of your character and personality, what is really important is what you do in the bedroom. Your sex life trumps your work life, family life and social life. It trumps everything you’ve created, like essays, blogs, stories, art. You could have a black belt in…

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