01 December 2012

Pagan Living, Winter 2012

So, yours truly has another article in Pagan Living's newest issue.  I am including it here in it's entirety because there was some sourcing left out.  I feel that Eliz Kirkland Sickles must be acknowledged for her amazing contribution to the article with her Earl Grey infused pound cake, a devout and experienced pound cake baker, I knew she would not disappoint. Thank you Eliz!!

There is nothing quite as comforting as a steaming mug of freshly brewed tea on a cold Winter's day.  The pleasing scent and flavor pulled from brewed tea leaves has been a mainstay of western culture for about four hundred years.  In that time, not only have we found a variety of ways to expand the flavors of tea leaves, we have also found creative ways to incorporate it into our meals.  Tea covers a wide range of brews, technically tea involves brewing tea leaves and "tisanes" are the result of brewing various herbs and plant parts in hot water.  For the sake of this article, the term "tea" shall encompass both.

Black tea was first documented in 10th century BC China, where it is said the leaves of the tea plant were blown into a hot cup of water.    The Camelliasinesis, or tea plant, is the source of the widely popular black, white and green teas. Black, white, green and Oolong teas all come from the same plant.  Their color, flavor, caffeine and antioxidant contents all result from their varying duration of oxidation before being processed.  White and green teas both have minimal "curing" or oxidation process before they are dried while black tea has the longest. Oolong is processed in a midway point between the green and black teas, which gives it a milder flavor than the black but a bit more of a flavor than the green tea.  Black tea varieties have expanded throughout China, Japan and India especially and are also now grown in many other parts of the world where the climates that support the growth of the tea plant. By the 17th century tea had made it's way across Europe and the United Kingdom to Colonial America.

The variety of teas also come from where the tea is grown and to what the leaves are exposed to while growing as well as after harvesting.  The much-loved Earl Grey tea is the result of black tea leaves being combined with the essential oil of the bergamot orange, giving it a unique scent and flavor that tends to be an acquired taste. Jasmine tea comes from exposing tea leaves to the heavy scent of blooming Jasmine. Store shelves carry a very large amount of varieties to choose from, breakfast tea varieties are a stronger blend of black teas from different regions throughout the Far East.  Black teas are also infused with a variety of spices or fruit flavors, these teas are useful in adding variety and dimension to food recipes.  The tannins in black teas are wonderful for tenderizing meats or adding contrasting astringency to sweet dishes. When using tea in your culinary repertoire, consider how the tea will compliment or enhance the dish you are preparing.  Sweet dishes work well using spicy or fruity blends, the popular Chai blend of tea brings a punch of flavor to many winter dishes as well as being an ideal warming beverage during the darkest and coldest part of the year.  Teas also work well when added to the hot liquid used in cooking rice, quinoa, amaranth, and oats or poaching meats.  

Teas are also an ancient resource of healing.  "Tisanes", or herbal teas, are a more ancient source of beverage brewed for either culinary or medicinal purposes.  Tisanes are infusions made from flowers, seeds, leaves, bark and/or roots of plants.  For example, herbs like catnip, rosemary or peppermint are brewed and served hot to relieve symptoms from colds or stomach upset.

Teas are also utilized in magical practices, various herbs, flowers, plant parts are added to a base of black tea leaves for use in rituals or spell workings.  It is highly recommended to research the herbs you wish to use to be sure they are not toxic.  Also look for possible allergies as well as drug interactions with any medications you may be taking, because even something as seemingly harmless as lavender or lemon balm make react badly with medications.  Please do your research!

Once your research is complete, there are combinations with a wide variety of roots, leaves and blossoms of flowers and herbs that can be combine with black tea for delightful infusions to help bring love, joy, peace, purification into your everyday life.  To learn more of this practice, there are a variety of websites across the internet and countless books-one of my favorite resources for information about magical workings using teas is Ann Moura (Aoumiel)'s book Green Witchcraft: Folk Magic, Fairy Lore & Herb Craft

Tea is also used in divination, not only are there a variety of blends used to enhance receptivity the tea leaves are also used in the art of 'fortune telling'.  Tasseography, or tea leaf reading, typically uses loose leaf tea from the Camellia sinesis, brewed and poured for the drinker.  After drinking most of the liquid, the cup of tea is then used to read patterns in the tea leaves to tell the fortune of the person who drank the tea. It is uncertain as to where the practice originated, however it is said to have followed the path of tea from China to the west and has spread across Europe and has been found to be quite prevalent throughout Ireland, Scotland and England especially.

However you prefer your cup of tea, it is a versatile beverage with ancient roots and a devout following throughout history to modern day where it is now a multi-billion dollar business. Loose leaf or bagged, tea enthusiasts take great delight in the wide array of teas now available (as well as tea accessories!).  Whether you take yours black, with milk or with lemon and sugar, as a tea lover's know that there is nothing like a hot cuppa to warm the bones and soothe the soul. 

Cranberry Spice Tea

1 orange
12 whole cloves
2 inch long cinnamon stick, broken into pieces
4 black tea bags, your choice
4 cups boiling water
1 cup cranberry juice
1/2 cup granulated sugar

Stud the orange with the cloves and cut into 6 or 8 sections. Place them in the teapot, squeezing each slightly as you do so. Add the cinnamon, tea and boiling water. Steep for 5 minutes and strain. Stir in cranberry juice and sugar.  4-6 servings.

Source: unknown

There is nothing more inviting than a hot breakfast waiting on those chilly winter mornings!  When incorporating tea into the oatmeal-making process, the possibilities are endless! Fruit flavored teas, spicy teas in addition to your favorite oatmeal add ins-dried or fresh fruits.The key is to substitute brewed tea for the water before making your oatmeal to bring it added flavor. Be sure to bring the water to a boil and then pour the boiling water into your mug or measuring cup that contains the tea.  Cover the mug (or saucepan if you wish to make larger batches) and allow to steep at least 5-10 minutes.  Then use tea in place of the water when preparing your oatmeal.  This recipe uses the longer cooking oats-steel cut Irish oats result in a less gluey end result. If you are feeling really adventurous try toasting the oats lightly in a dry pan over medium to medium-high heat until slightly tan before adding to the slow cooker, the toasting gives added flavor to the dish.

This recipe is prepared the night before, turning the slow cooker on before you go to bed.  Please keep in mind that all slow cookers run differently which will result in varying cooking times. Mine has the oatmeal cooked in 7 hours, after that there is a risk of burning.  If I think I'll be sleeping longer I'll add an extra cup of liquid. Upon waking I add the spices of my choice, you can add the spices the night before but the slow cooking tends to cook out most of the flavors they impart to the oats.

Slow Cooker Tea-infused Oatmeal

4-5 cups of water
4 tablespoons of loose tea of your choice (or 4 tea bags) (this time of year I favor warming, spicy teas)
1 cup steel-cut Irish oats
2 TB butter
1-2 TB sweetener of your choice (brown sugar, maple syrup, honey, no sugar added preserves (like the Polaner All-fruit), agave nectar)
1 cup milk (your choice, I prefer almond)
spices of choice (cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cardamom, allspice or clove)

Depending on your tea choice you can add 1/2 cup of various nuts or dried fruits and/or 1 cup of fresh fruit. If the fresh fruit is more watery and prone to mushiness you may wish to add it before serving. 

In a saucepan, bring the 4 cups of water to a boil, add the tea and cover. Allow to steep for 5-10 minutes.  Strain, let cool and pour liquid into slow cooker. Before bed, add the oats, butter, sweetener. Cover and turn on low.  Allow to cook at least 5 hours.

Milk may be added when you serve the oatmeal, or add it as the extra cup of liquid if your slow cooker runs hot.  The milk makes the oatmeal more creamy, if you prefer to add it the night before.

Spiced Baked Apples

4 firm baking apples, peeled and cores scooped out until about 1/4 inch from bottom.
1/4 cup demarera sugar, plus 2 TB
4 TB butter, softened
1 cup of brewed Bengal Spice tea (I brew 2-3 bags of Bengal Spice tea in 1 cup of boiling water)
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp grated allspice
pinch of ground cloves.

Preheat oven to 350*. Place apples in an 8x8" baking dish. In a small bowl, mix spices and butter.  Split butter/sugar mixture into fourths and fill each hollowed out apple. Add the sugar to hot tea, mix well and pour brewed tea over apples.  Cover baking dish with foil and bake for 30 minutes.  Remove foil and cook an additional 5 min.  Serve immediately.

Smoky Orange-marinated Chicken

4 boneless chicken breasts
5 cups water
3-4 TB loose tea Lapsang Souchong (depending on your brand of tea and your preference for level of smoky flavor)
2 TB sea salt
1 orange, grated and juiced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 shallots, sliced into thin rings
1 TB tamari
1 TB honey
1/4 tsp ground cayenne
1 TB black peppercorns

Bring the water to a boil, remove from heat and add the Lapsang Souchong.  Allow to steep for 5 minutes and then strain leaves from liquid.  Allow tea to cool to room temperature, set aside one cup for later use in the recipe. 

In a non-reactive container add 4 cups of the tea, 2 TB of sea salt, the garlic, peppercorns and the peel and juice of one orange.  Add chicken breasts and allow to marinate for at least one day (two days is better if you want that really smoky flavor). When ready to bake, remove breasts from marinade and discard the marinade.

Preheat oven to 350*  Transfer chicken to baking dish.  In a small non-reactive mixing bowl mix remaining 1 cup of tea, shallots, tamari, honey, cayenne, salt and pepper to taste.  Mix and pour over chicken breasts.  Bake chicken for 20-30 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 165*.

Serves 4

Earl Grey Pound Cake with White Chocolate Glaze

2.5 sticks unsalted butter
8 Tablespoons loose Earl Grey tea (this does not mean emptying out tea bags. This is buying the loose tea)
1/2 cup shortening
3 cups sugar
6 large eggs
2 tablespoons vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3 cups flour
1 cup milk (you can substitute soy milk)

Heat the butter until it is just melted. Turn the stove down to low and stir the loose tea into the butter. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove butter from stove and let sit for 5 minutes before pouring the mixture thru a fine sieve. You will have to press on the tea leaves to get as much butter out as possible. The goal is to end up with 1 cup of butter. Allow the butter to cool down to room temperature.
Preheat oven to 325*. Butter and flour a bundt pan and set aside.
Combine butter, shortening and sugar. Add eggs one at a time. Beat well after adding each egg. Add in vanilla.
In another bowl, sift together the salt, baking powder and flour.
Add milk in thirds, alternating with flour mixture, to the butter mixture.
Pour batter into the prepared bundt pan. Bake at 325 for 1 hour and 15 minutes. Test cake for doneness. When the cake is done, remove from oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes before inverting the cake onto a cake plate.

White Chocolate Glaze

3 bags of Earl Grey tea
1/2 cup cream, heated
4 oz white chocolate

Put tea bags into heated cream and steep until cream has cooled to room temp. Finely chop the white chocolate and place in small bowl. Remove and discard the tea bags. Reheat cream in microwave and pour over the white chocolate. Allow to sit for 5 minutes, then stir until creamy. Drizzle over warm pound cake.

Source: Eliz Kirkland Sickles

Copyright © 2012 Stephanie Libby

31 August 2012

Blissed the eff out!

Still on a bit of a high from our amazing holiday in Scotland.  Things are so wonderful and amazing right now, thrilling even!

The girlie and I leave for a long weekend with other families whose kids were diagnosed with cancer, it's a fun filled weekend yearly that we love.  Canoeing, swimming, hiking, archery, and so much more. Because I'll be offline for the weekend I wanted to share the exciting release of Pagan Living's Autumn 2012 issue.  It's a lovely mag and I was quite honored to be asked if Id be interested in writing an article for it.  So, persimmon-y love shall be found somewhere within the pages of the magazine.  I'll be back writing a new foody article for their Winter issue later this year!  Such fun!

Scotland was a dream, we are definitely going back and really want to move there.  I have loads of photos I am still working through to resize and some to clean up a bit (lots of photos taken from trains and cars as the country sped by).  The most boggling thing that happened there was silence.  Silence!  My intuitive self found peace for the first time in my life, it was BLISS!  No chatter, no spirit, no emotions coming off everything, just stillness and I was so happy to experience it.

Since our return it has kicked in on overdrive through, in fact it started on the flight from Amsterdam to Boston with a small something bumping at my hip in the aisle. No child there.  Since home I've been getting back into intuitive readings and am finding it's really fine tuned a lot of the melee that flows in my head.  I have a new found, much needed, confidence that now has me moving forward to do readings in person for people. I have two events this Autumn that I'll be reading at.  One is in another week in Manchester, NH for Pagan Pride and the second is in Laconia, NH at Wild Woman's Studio's Witch's Tea Party at the end of October (dates and times to come).  The Pagan Pride event isn't  anything huge for me, I'll actually be doing more chair massage for people with hopefully some readings in between when my hands need a rest.  So if you are around, come see us at Veteran's Park in Manchester.  $10-$15 chair massage for 10-15 minutes of massage.

on Isle of Harris, that purple blip at the bottom is a mystery, I took this photo in a burst of three images and this was the middle photo.

Glenfinnan Viaduct, made famous in the Harry Potter movie

A fisherman in Mallaig Harbour

spectacular view from Portree, Isle of Skye

at Òb nan Ròn
 — Staffin, Isle of Skye, Scotland

Creag An Fèilidh aka "Kilt Rock" 

14 August 2012

Endings and New Beginnings

I shared the news yesterday on Facebook, this photo is an *outtake* and I wanted to use it in some way as well to share the Pixie in those eyes. I haven't seen that mischief, humor and light in those eyes in a very long time.  So today and for all tomorrows I celebrate it.

Yesterday my beloved girlie ended her cancer treatment. The news has been spread far and wide (and continues to spread) and, as with her treatment and bringing us prayers and healing energies on her behalf, we had countless strangers celebrating her victory with us.

Tomorrow we leave for Scotland, with a layover in Amsterdam.  She is so incredibly excited!  This is her Make a Wish *wish* (well, the Scotland part, the Amsterdam visit is bonus thanks to the long layover).

We'll be back in ten days, with loads of photos!

01 August 2012

on this First Harvest...

A new month and Full Moon brings the opportunity for a fresh start. August, the month marked with such intense solar energy as my neck of the woods begins to become blanketed in various shades of yellows and oranges along with the end of summer heat before we see the tangible seasonal shift.  This Summer has been very odd indeed, a very hot, very humid yet very dry (on the rainfall front) start before we saw a few days of respite and then back to the heat for a bit.  My garden is confused, burnt and very sad looking.  My herbs are thriving though!  I have been enjoying a peaceful summer with my sweet girlie as she nears the end of her cancer treatment.  This is our first big "HOORAY!" for the month, her last in treatment clinic appointment is in one week and then four days after that she has her LAST dose of chemo EVER!  I am so happy and thankful for her healing, she is beautiful, vibrant, healthy and happy!  This mama couldn't ask for anything more!

Two weeks from today we leave for Scotland!  Very exciting!  For any remaining readers here, I'll be flooding this site with photos, hundreds of them at the very least. Since November, when I did my reading for the year, this month has been coming up as being a month of HUGE happy changes for me, Scotland seems to play a part in that so it will be interesting to see how everything plays out. We'll be spending 8-9 days touristing around, seeing all sorts of wonderful sights.  We'll be visiting Callanish Stone circle, which has been on Pixie's wishlist long before the movie Brave came out. I dread the ferry rides, as I am horridly motion sick on water especially, but it will be worth seeing that amazing place.

I've recently added pages to this site with some of my old Seasonal Kitchen columns from Pagan Activist. As always with this time of  year, as the season shifts I'll be sharing more recipes because my culinary urges intensify between the equinox and the winter solstice.  Hoping that getting back to work next month will open up an influx of +++ finances and allow me to enjoy myself more in the kitchen.  I've a gluten-free diet to play about with and two somewhat different dietary needs to accommodate.  Should be fun!

Sending out Lunasda and Full Moon blessings, I close this entry with some recipes fit for the celebrations.

Pear Bread

A lovely tea bread that is special enough to be dessert for a picnic. It freezes well so keep an extra loaf on hand for unexpected guests. The Governor's Inn, Ludlow, Vermont

Yield: Makes 1 loaf

    * 1/2 cup sweet butter (1 stick), room temperature
    * 1 cup sugar
    * 2 large eggs
    * 2 cups all-purpose flour
    * 1/2 teaspoon salt
    * 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
    * 1 teaspoon baking powder
    * Pinch nutmeg
    * 1/4 cup buttermilk
    * 1 cup coarsely chopped cored pears (or pureed in food processor or blender)
    * 1 teaspoon vanilla
    * 1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Cream butter, gradually beat in sugar, and add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. Combine dry ingredients and add to egg mixture alternately with buttermilk. Stir in pears, vanilla, and nuts. Pour into a greased loaf pan and bake at 350 degrees F for 1 hour. Cool. Slice and serve plain, with Quick Apple Butter (recipe follows), or with cream cheese.
Quick Apple Butter

    * 2 cups unsweetened applesauce
    * 1/2 cup sugar
    * 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
    * Pinch each of ginger and cloves

Combine all ingredients in a saucepan, bring to a boil, and simmer 30 minutes. Cool and spread on Pear Bread (or toast). Makes 1-1/2 cups.

Spiced Sweet Roasted Red Pepper Hoummus

1 (15 ounce) can garbanzo beans, drained (or other white beans)
1 (4 ounce) jar roasted red peppers 
3 tablespoons lemon juice 
1 1/2 tablespoons tahini 
1 clove garlic, minced 
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin 
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper 
1/4 teaspoon salt 
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley 

In an electric blender or food processor, puree the chickpeas, red peppers, lemon juice, tahini, garlic, cumin, cayenne, and salt. Process, using long pulses, until the mixture is fairly smooth, and slightly fluffy. Make sure to scrape the mixture off the sides of the food processor or blender in between pulses. Transfer to a serving bowl and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. (The hummus can be made up to 3 days ahead and refrigerated. Return to room temperature before serving.) 
Sprinkle the hummus with the chopped parsley before serving. 

Zucchini Salsa

10 cups zucchini, peeled and shredded
4 onions, chopped
2 green bell peppers, chopped
2 red bell peppers, chopped
1/4 cup pickling salt
1 tablespoon pickling salt
2 tablespoon dry mustard
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon cumin
2 cups white vinegar
1 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon black pepper
5 cups chopped ripe tomatoes
2 tablespoon cornstarch
2 cans tomato paste

In a large bowl combine; Zucchini, onions, green pepper, red pepper and the salt Mix together cover and let stand over night.

Next day rinse, drain well and put into a large pot then add mustard, garlic, cumin, vinegar, brown sugar, pepper flakes, cornstarch, nutmeg, pepper, tomatoes and tomato paste.

Bring to a boil and simmer for 15 minutes.

Pour into sterilized jars and seal.

Water bath jars if they have not sealed properly.

Note: If you want it "HOT" just add a dozen finely chopped jalapenos 

Source: unknown

Gram's Sweet Relish

3qt green tomatoes
3 large ripe tomatoes
4 onions
5 sweet red peppers
4 sweet green peppers
1/2c. salt

Set overnight.  drain

5c. sugar
1 cinnamon stick (remove before canning)
3pts apple cider vinegar

Cooking: 1 hour and then can

Confetti Corn and Bulgur Salad

Pillsbury Best of the Bakeoff 

1c. uncooked bulgur wheat
1 garlic clove, minced (I added more)
1c. boiling water
1/4c. olive oil

In a large bowl combine above four ingredients, mix well and let stand 30 min.

1 medium red apple, chopped
1/2c. golden raisins
2 TB fresh lemon juice
1 (15.25oz) can whole kernel corn, drained
4 Italian plum tomatoes, chopped
4 scallions or green onions, thinly sliced
1/2 c. finely chopped fresh basil 
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

In a medium bowl, combine apple, raisins and lemon juice; mix well.  Fluff bulgur with fork.  Add apple mixture and remaining ingredients; mix well.  If desired line serving bowl with kale or lettuce leaves.  spoon salad into a bowl

YIELDS: 8 1c servings

per serving: 190 calories; 4g protein; 32g carbohydrate; 8g fat; 180mg sodium

24 July 2012

Birdy love

We had a run of bad luck with computers earlier this year, and during that time I thought I had lost years worth of photos that I hadn't backed up.  Happily, I was able to retrieve all those photos and now try to upload them in various places online so I will always have them. One of my greatest joys is photographing birds.  We have feeders and now my grandmother's birdbath (at least I think it's hers, if not it's the spitting image if it) and our oasis in urban sprawl brings us countless varieties of birds visiting. So, without further ado-birds of the Concord Heights:

23 July 2012

Lazy, hazy, summer days

I always have the best intentions to post regularly here, but the days, and my thoughts often run away with me. I am happy to notice that my thoughts are happier and more positive each passing day, much of my reticence in writing here was to avoid wallowing in the negative.

So this summer has been glorious, we have so much to be thankful for with a healthy Pixie whose cancer treatment is finished in 21 days!  It has been a long 2 year and nearly four months and her health having returned is the light of my life.  She is in flux, as her 13th birthday nears this fall we have the oh.so.lovely hormonal mood swings starting.  I have begun thinking of her moon time, when it finally starts, and what can I do to make it a celebration. We are blessed to have a lovely circle of magical folk around us to help celebrate with us.  She is one day lamenting that her Hogwarts acceptance letter didn't arrive (the explanation I offered was that she was in cancer treatment at 11 so perhaps at 13 something will arrive) and the next she is oogling and sighing over shirtless, well muscled men as we drive.  Oh the joys of nearly teenaged girlies!

She got to enjoy a few hours of fishing last month, she delighted in finding a snail (above) and sung "shellicky shellicky bookey" quietly trying to entice it from it's shell. No such luck, so she spent the remaining time trying to catch bass. Her reconnecting to nature and the magical part of herself has been moving forward quite solidly.  A few days after her treatment ends next month we will be in Scotland for her Make A Wish trip, the itinerary is amazing-we'll tour a few islands, ride the Jacobite Steam train, see Loch Ness and spend several days in Edinburgh having some haunted fun.  We will also be visiting The Wyrd Shop, a lovely looking witchy shop in Edinburgh that she is anxious to shop at.  I'll spend the weeks following resizing and uploading the photos of our adventures there, so keep an eye out. 

So we are hoping for cooler summer weather in order to spend more time outside.  The horrid heat and humidity has kept us inside far too much.  Our container garden is suffering no matter how much we water, not sure we'll have anything to harvest this year, nothing is doing well.  The weeks have been sent cleaning the house after my mother moved away and sorting through all of our things, to downsize and make moving next year an easier task for us. 

To beat the heat we have been crafting indoors in cooler weather, lots of knitting and jewelry making.  I was asked if I would write a food article for the online magazine Pagan Living, so I'll be sure to link to the autumn issue when it's out!  So this article found us experimenting with persimmons and creating various recipes and hopefully everyone enjoys them as much as Pixie and I did!

I've also been continuing with my intuitive readings, mostly via email but I think skype is my next step to ease me to face to face readings I plan to do in September and October especially.  I've been debating offering short reads for $15 so I can make some spending case for our trip.  I was told by the NH office that we'll get money for souvenirs in the amount of $50 each, which is more like £30.  To be honest other families we have met who had wishes granted mentioned receiving A LOT more spending money so I was shocked and now I'm at a panic.  Pixie is working for her grandfather doing odd jobs to make money, my brother and I will give her our $50 so she has money, of course that leaves me with a shortage and I'd like to be able to get some gifts for people, fiber for me and souvenirs as well.  September brings a driver's license renewal, car inspection and registration (and if it needs work to pass inspection that will be more money) so I have to have a few hundred dollars to get that done and I'll also be job searching too.  (some serious, kickass "get the perfect job for Steph and Pixie" vibes are VERY welcomed).

So, if you know anyone looking for an intuitive reading, be sure to send them my way.  Every little bit will help!  In the meantime, cleaning, sorting, knitting and staying happy and positive.  It's a lovely summer, hopefully I'll write here more frequently!

11 May 2012

Finding Faith

I had thought of calling this entry "Spiritual Crisis", however as I thought of it I found that really did not describe where I am at.   I have been through a lot in the last two years especially with my daughter's cancer treatment, however much of what I am experiencing goes much deeper and much further back in my history.  The culmination of working on old trauma, damage, fears and layer on everything that has or has not happened in my life since then and the end result is the chaotic hot mess that is me.

I lay awake during the night last night looking back over my life.  I am on the verge of....I don't know what.  Financially my life is in tatters.  "Find a job" is the most frequent response by well meaning people in my life.  However, it's not as cut and dry for me.  I am an emotional and mental mess, the thought of being away from my child is more intense that ever.  It's not only from the trauma of her diagnosis, it's been going on for years before that.  All I have ever wanted was to stay home and raise this gift of mine.  No one really seems to understand where I am coming from.  She is my miracle, after being told I'd never be able to have children without medical intervention (and even then a small chance of that).  She graced my life with her light, I became a different and better person.  However, looking back over the last twenty years I see a lot of lacking on my part.  Insulated off from a harsh world was all I could manage. I had one amazing pastoral counselor in my late-20's that got me back out into the world after a very bad time with agoraphobia and such intense apathy that I didn't care if I lived or died. Around this time I had such a breakdown, I'm not sure what it's called but I snapped and just shut down.  I crawled into bed and that was it, unresponsive and just not there. I had no sense of time.  I feel rather weak, with how I handle stress and life in general.  I've never felt comfortable in my skin, or where I am in life. Very out of place and not knowing what to do about it.  I had attributed much of this to my shutting out all of the psychic overload I lived with since I was very young.  Feeling emotions, seeing spirit (usually angry nasties) and having a sense of knowing I just had no clue what to do with.  It was this same pastoral counselor who guided me through the hell I lived with inside myself.  She was such a gift for me.

So fast forward to now, I am coming back out of a very dark place.  I've journaled for the last two years, well, five actually, and looking back I can recognise improvement.  I tend to bury my head in the sand when everything gets to be too much. I obsessively focus elsewhere because I have no idea what to do and asking for help tends to get me nowhere much of the time.  I am not sure what my soul signed on for in this life but holy shit!  I feel like I was dumped in here solo and expected to learn it all by myself.  I often cannot think straight so I get so lost.  I have moments of clarity when it all makes sense and I get a plan and then it's as though I wake the next morning with amnesia, weeks or months go by before I realise what happened.  What is laughable is that I can do readings and see other's situation so crystal clear and I can't even manage a teensy fraction of that for myself.  I fall into the single mother with little to no means of income, a child still in cancer treatment and a mountain of debt staring me down.  Assistance from social security has blown up in my face and their mistake is now threatening to cost me nearly $7,000.  I am fighting it and hope for victory and one less stressor however no matter how many affirmations, or positive thoughts I have had-shit blows up in my face repeatedly.  So how does one find and maintain faith despite it all?

I am at it again, working to stay positive, affirmations, nightly thankfuls, trying to get out into the world again and slowly I am feeling better.  I am aware that this year will bring huge changes for me and I strive tonot let that thought overwhelm me.  Coming from a past of abuse, trauma and lots of fear, it is often a struggle to maintain positivity.   As a Libra I function best as a duo, though in my life I have chose that other half of my duo most horridly.  I've attracted the dregs of humanity so much that I realized I must hate myself and see myself as useless and unlovable that I don't deserve the very best in life. That thought breaks my heart, I hear my grandmother and my grandfather behind me right now, trying to tell me all the wonderful things that make me special and worth loving.  These are the two who loved me best in my childhood.  My grandfather Bryan passed away 31 years ago next week and I grieved his loss so intensely, never finding closure until last Samhuinn when, after my 3rd Reiki attunement that summer,  he finally was able to get through my thick cocoon.  I now know he has been with me for all of those thirty years, close by and holding me up when everything goes to shit.  I grieve the loss of more time with him on this earth so I could get to know him as a teenager and an adult.  To know more of his history and life in his younger years.  Now I work at through piece-mealed snippets of photos, records and stories, it helps me to connect with him a bit better and I am able to hear more of what he tries to tell me, or just letting me know he's nearby.  Oftentimes with he and my grandmother, they tend to *chastise* me when I speak or think negatively of myself. 

I thank them for their presences, because it helps to keep me going when things go all kerfluffled. I recognize lately that I am coming out of a very deep, dark cave.  I feel lighter, sometimes more hopeful and I work hard to be a happy person for my daughter, who senses everything I feel no matter how much I wall it off.  She deserves to see her mother happy and to get a glimpse of the silly person she has been known to be.  I loathe being the serious, only parent carrying the weight of the world on my shoulders.  What I am working at now is to try and figure out what it is I need to do, I get no answers beyond "Be patient" and "don't worry". Leaves me wanting to screech like a banshee.  It takes a lot for me to find a counselor or the like to help me find my way.  I don't feel I can do this alone any longer, I've taken 14 years of it on my own and apart from raising the most amazing 12 year old I have failed miserably in everything other aspect of my life.  Bad choices are the big thing, but I sacrificed my happiness in order to have treasured time with my girl.  We made the best of life with her father, I hated every second of life with him but it gave me such wonderful times with her and with the land so it was well worth the price.  Now I am trying to find that life, minus toxic assholes, once again for my girl and I.  Our own home, farm, garden, time to pursue my passions and reconnect with my spiritual side and combine it with my energy and bodywork career interests.  It may seem easy to others, however for this extreme introvert it is sheer hell.  Still, every day I work to may at least the teensiest of baby steps forward, so hopefully I will be on the upswing soon enough and I can shed this overcoat of blah and be on my way to help others. The key, I have been seeing, is to maintain faith.  Which brings me right back to the "how?".  Faith is a foreign concept for me and it's moments like this I wish I were a church going person, because faith and ministers/pastors seem to go hand in hand in my thinking.

But that could be the Mormon-influenced Catholic upbringing I had.....

06 May 2012

Our (Super) Full Moon in Scorpio experience

While, sadly, Pixie and I missed the opportunity to bask in the light of the Moon as she rose last night (dang clouds!).  What I did get to see were two bats frolicking about in the dimming sky.  It's rather early here for them so it was a surprise (and for all the ick factor they give me, a real treat).

So Pixie and I went about our evening, I made plans to do a release spell yesterday on this energetic-steroid-enhanced day,  As the Moon went Full late in the evening I decided that perhaps I wait as close to then as possible.  There were no worries about making it that long, I was far from sleepy, in fact I was wired for sound.  The energy was palpable and coursed through me like a caffeine buzz, I could see as 11pm hit (and eeps, no noticing the time either) that my Pixie was just as energized.

I sat and wrote all that I was releasing, poured every ounce of fear and energy toward these  into the page of paper.  My release spell wasn't full out ritual, I didn't have most of the gear, but simple is often best so I went with the intent and energy.  I crumpled the page and shook as the energy flowed into the paper. Then went into the bathroom and into a metal container lit the wad on fire and let it all go before flushing the ashes out of my life.  I felt amazing!  Fantastic! Brilliant!  There is no word for the lightness and energetic fabulousness I experienced last night.  I released all my attachments to fear over various things in my life, and with the last two years fear associated with money and debt had been huge.  I let it all go.  This morning after researching Bat energy I found that the earth and spirit energies were certainly backing me up for this ritual, as I saw them 3-4 hours before I did the release ritual. 

Once Pixie was in bed and sleeping I lay and did some positive affirmations, sent prayer to all that hear me and then sort of floated a bit in my head, I forgot my melatonin so took it late in the evening and was nowhere near ready for sleep but it was after midnight so I at least attempted.  I lay and became aware of energies and presences around me, in the corner of the room at the foot of the bed I saw sparkles and movement of white swirliness.  I asked if they had something to tell me, WRONG move!  Suddenly there was a flood of noise, energy and I could hear a man's voice talking which freaked me out because it sounded like it was far off in the house. I shut the fan off and sat up in bed listening. At this point Pixie woke up (I share her room since she started her cancer treatment and my old room has become a storage room sadly), and asked what was going on.  I told her and when I settled back down in bed we lay there and shortly after she commented on the swirling sparks of light all over the ceiling, which I was watching but had not said a word to her.  It was like a mushroom cap of dots of light (I saw pink, she saw no distinct color) that seem to press toward us, as though it was a cushion hanging from the ceiling. In the far corner of the room she could see movement, swirls and such (I had not told her of what I saw in the opposite corner) and there was a distinct high-test pressure of energy to the room.  I think perhaps it scared her a bit, we have never experienced anything so intense.  I commented to her that I had the impression this energy was calling to us, and then wondered if this was what some of the "2012" people believe, that we transform and ascend into this energy (maybe wrong choice of words but I'm coffee-less), becoming a part of this energy.  It felt like this was calling us to it, to come with it, and suddenly I was no longer afraid.  I felt a snippet of what this energy holds and it's beautiful.

The movements around the room started up even more and began to make me uncomfortable because the energy was so intense I was vibrating, it was near 1am and sleep was needed so I went looking for my zeolite, my one crystal that acts as my psychic housemother, allowing me a break from too much energy, or invasive energy (as a intuitive reader I have some people who feel they can just push their psychic energy into my space when they want a reading, this zeolite is great for shoring up those boundaries).  Once I found it I held it a bit, placed it on my crown chakra/third eye a bit and then gave it to Pixie to hold.  This dimmed out the energy and light show in a huge way and she was able to go back to sleep, by this time I was more than ready for sleep myself but SO excited about wanting to write it all down and share with my spiritual community and friends!

What were your experiences last night?  I look forward to hearing about all of them.

17 April 2012

aimlessly drifting

Two months have passed since my last posting and in some aspects I have nothing to show for it. Life zooms by just trying to get through daily struggles. I've wanted to blog but had nothing I felt was worth reading (if anyone even reads here anymore) so I let the urge pass, this went on for much of the last two months.

My spiritual body is wholly neglected and forgotten.  I am lucky to be giving any focus to myself these days, but I make the effort and for right now the effort has been healing my autoimmune-diseased battered body.  I'm nine weeks gluten-free, feeling good overall however the weight gain is pissing me off.  I removed the high carb gluten free flours of my first month gluten free and that is when the weight gain really took off, so I'm frustrated as all get out trying to figure out what is going on.  Pixie and I are getting out and walking to help boost metabolism, build muscles and get fit for her Make a Wish trip this summer.  Yesterday I was brought to my knees with a stomach virus that came out of nowhere and left me feeling like a wrung out sponge. While I feel fine today my innards are a bit 'meh' at the thought of food so this will be a nice restarting point for the proper diet.

Emotional body has been getting a lot of focus, lots of old childhood pains being addressed and healed this year especially. I hope one day that I meet a great guy who is everything I want, deserve and need but with all my traumas and pain logical nags me regularly that now is not the time.  The fact I attracted the dregs of humanity were proof of that!

So back to spiritual self. This has been rearing it's head lately.  I need to focus more here and the cool thing is that yesterday morning I did a reading and it was acknowledged in the reading that I am in a place where I cannot expand and grow spiritually because of surroundings and people around me. What was very interesting for me was the focus on ancestors. I have been working heavily on tracking family history for both my family as well as the families of my niece and nephews so lots of looking at the past and solving mysteries and working puzzles. So this card (in the Earth Magic oracle deck) spoke of ancestors not only in my past but ancestral spirits in the land around me. This connected so beautifully with me and gave me a shot of energy and inspiration.  The land I live on is very negative, filled with spiritual energies that are not welcoming or friendly and it really bogs me down. I haven't been thriving like I used to living anywhere else.It's been a struggle to just survive but this was the only option we had so I make the best of it.

I was all ready to step out and take the world by the scruff of it's neck and make it mine.  the this stomach virus snuck in and kicked my ass. ugh.  So, re-examining my options while I recover.  I miss being spiritual, and witchy and feeling connected, everything felt right when I was. So now to find my way back.

11 February 2012

new changes afoot

In the last couple of weeks I have been focusing on my battle with PCOS. It has been the source of great frustration, heartache and the odd physical ailments for my entire adult life.  Recently I learned that it is highly suspected that PCOS is a autoimmune disorder and that gluten, dairy, and other food allergens could be causing all the troubles we PCOSers live with.  Well, dairy isn't my friend, I've known this for years, I can do fermented dairy, some cheeses, with no ill effects.  I refuse to give up eggs, they make me happy and unless my body shows me that I can no longer have them I will stick with them.  I get my eggs fresh from my neighbor's healthy chickens, can't beat that.

Which leaves me with gluten. I know carbohydrates are not my friend. they contribute to my weight gain and resistance to weight loss.  I had been currently off a lower carb diet because I spent years, adhering strictly to low carb living and still, weight stayed put. UGH.  so now I am one week into gluten-free living and holy moly!  I feel fantastic!  I had been struggling with discomfort with my innards since I was on antibiotics for a tooth infection last month. No amount of probiotics helped.  So cutting out/reducing the gluten intake has helped considerably.  I still had some lavash (oatbran, flax and wheat, so gluten) to use up but apart from that I have been eating Rudi's gluten free whole grain hamburger buns when I have any bread.  I found a rice cheese that is amazing and had a couple of grilled cheese sandwiches over the course of the week.  How I have missed those!

So I have decided to set up a blog dedicated to the ups and downs of gluten-free living over here with my first recipe Creamy Lentil Soup with basil pesto.  yum

05 February 2012

Ready for Spring

The older I get the less I appreciate or even like Winter.  I know, I know, perfect time to rest and go all introspective and all but for someone who already lives in their head this is just more of the same.  The cold makes my bones ache and I dread the ice whether I be traveling by car or by foot.  I've never loved Winter, even as I child, I made do and anxiously awaited Spring.  There is nothing like Spring, the tangible surge of energy all around, the growing cacophony of birdsong, and the flood of color spreading, it makes my heart burst with joy and my spirit soar.

Hibernating away in a cosy, warm home with a woodstove or fireplace, with picture windows to watch a gentle pastoral scene of wild life coming in to poke about as I sit warming myself by a fire, knitting and dreaming of Spring planting.  the not having to go anywhere is key for me, then perhaps I'd revel in the slowness that the Winter season brings.  However in this day and age we are a go go go society and life has not brought be to a place where I can tuck in for a season. It is a goal, for my older years, however for now I have to continue building the foundation for that future.

For this Winter I have been appreciating a slower life, this year we lay low to keep Pixie out of the frequently sick populace while her immune system is suppressed.  One cold in September nearly wiped out her neutrophils and nearly landed us back in the hospital.  After spending so many weeks there last winter I am bound and determined to keep her healthy and far away from the in patient floor! Six months more of treatment and then things return to normal (well, normal for us).  I am starting to look at job opportunities, as I must find work, a new home and a foster home for all of my plants this year. It feels rather daunting but the battle to maintain a positive chatter in my head helps some. 

In the meantime I've been working more with crystals, doing readings for people and working to exercise my intuitive self.   One of the most amazing happenings for me of late is my sudden ability to handle and wear carnelian!  I have never been able to, it caused headaches and increased heart issues and made me quite irritable.  I was reading The Illustrated Directory of Healing Crystals by Cassandra Eason a few days ago and suddenly got it in my mind to try holding the one piece of carnelian I have.  It was an amazing experience, my hands hummed, my heart chakra area got warm and energized.  I wore it for a few hours and then again most of yesterday and the energy level is fantastic, it uplifts my moods and gives such a sense of confidence and power.  I am still trying to figure out why this has suddenly changed, my theory is that I had some serious blockage somewhere that the carnelian was trying to work open and I fought it subconsciously. Either way, I'll work with it now for as long as I can.  I also invite others to reexamine their reactions to certain stones and see if perhaps it's stirring up emotions, etc. that you may not be ready to deal with.

I was hoping to write more however my laptop stopped working, I am sad that I was unable to get all my photos, recipes, etc off of it before it crapped out.  I knew it was going to happen but didn't have the sd cards or the funds for sd cards to back it all up. sigh.  For now I am back on a desktop PC however the hard wooden chair is most uncomfortable so I don't sit for as long anymore.  Probably a good thing!

So in order to set up the desktop in our new room I had to clean and pack away stuff.  I must say just this little work in one corner of the room has made a huge difference in the overall energy of the space.  Since Pixie's diagnosis we have been stuffed into this tiny room because it is on the first floor and has it's own bathroom.  While the danger of her on the stairs has passed, the ability to control contagions in the bathroom keeps us here.  I stay with her because all other rooms are on the second floor and I'd never sleep knowing she was downstairs all by herself. So this way we sleep better, despite the noisy people and early morning hungry cat stomping all over me howling for food.

It will be interesting to see what comes of this new burst of energy both in me and in our sleep space/haven.  Hopefully more knitting!  In the meantime I'll poke through old backups and try to retrieve as many photos and files as I can, and hopefully somewhere a computer geek can power up my laptop long enough to remove all my precious files.  Until then, family tree climbing and knitting!