Monday, December 31, 2012

Winter Pagan Fitness Challenge

I am so happy that Serenity Raven has decided to host a Winter Pagan Fitness Challenge. I am a week late in signing up but that is OK. This is one fitness challenge that I believe focuses on the right things! I'll post more about this later as I catch up :)

2013 Resolutions, Goals and Priorities

I try not to make too many resolutions for the start of the year; I prefer to think of them as goals instead. As a witch my New Year actually begins at Samhain but I like the start of the calendar year as another time to re-focus on things I want to do with my life. It is fun to join with so many people across the country and plan. There is so much positive energy at this time of year as people turn their thoughts to making positive changes in their lives. Imagine if just 10% of those hoped for changes became reality!  I believe that the world would be a better place for all if people started to make progress on their New Year resolutions!

This year my list is small,

1)      I plan on incorporating a Yoga class into my current fitness routine. I currently go to the gym at least 3 times per week and will be finding a beginner Yoga class that I can attend. I’ll also continue on with Weight Watchers and I hope to lose those last 25 pounds but I’ll be happy with another 10!
2)      I will set aside 1 week a month to work on magical items for my Etsy shop as well as any other projects that I want to do. This will be scheduled, guilt free, me time!
3)      I will continue to set aside time to hang out with my family & friends, make time for fun activities and find ways to let my friends and family know how much they mean to me.
4)      I will learn more about the spiritual side of the craft and strengthen my knowledge base in this area. I love to learn.

Here is one of my favorite quotes for the New Year...

We spend January 1 walking through our lives, room by room, drawing up a list of work to be done, cracks to be patched. Maybe this year, to balance the list, we ought to walk through the rooms of our lives... not looking for flaws, but for potential.
~Ellen Goodman

That is what I will be working on this year.   How about you?

Saturday, December 29, 2012

A Frosty Morning

This morning there was a layer of snow covering the ground when I work up. I love the silence that accompanies the snow. I had to step out and take a couple of pictures and just be a part of that silence. The above picture is of the Pin Oak tree that is in my front yard. It is a lovely tree all year but it is hauntingly beautiful after it sheds its leaves.

After spending a quite moment alone in the silence of the snow I went back inside and then out the back door with my sweet little pups following me. I took some pictures of the trees in our yard and watched as Sophie and her sister Alice ran joyously through the fresh power. This is Sophie, she has one goal in life and that is to play ball! The dirty orange thing at the bottom of the picture is her octopus toy, one that she has had since she was a puppy (she is 5 now). After taking a couple of pictures I played with Sophie and then came in to the sounds of my family slowly waking up on this lovely winter morning.

Truly a magnificent way to start the day

Friday, December 28, 2012

2012 Year in Review

Wowsa what a year! In 2012 I visited Seattle, San Francisco, Las Vegas, St. Petersburg and Panama City,  Florida, I’ve been on business trips, birthday trips and let’s get out of town trips.  I spent time with my family, my friends and myself and through it all I’ve managed to slowly get my art into my top 3 priorities and will have my Etsy shop re-stocked (and better stocked) by the first of February, AND, thankfully, the apocalypse didn't happen - again.
This year I took time every month to spend with my amazing friends who collectively form an artists’ group that meets once a month. We work on projects, eat delicious foods and chat, I am usually happy to just hang out and talk which is something that I need. I love being able to just sit with my friends and spend time, no commitments, no stress, just time with the girls. This year we also featured our collective work at a juried art fair. It was nice, I managed to sell of piece of my work and since we plan on doing the same show again, I have a full year to plan and create for the festival next year.
On the health front I am down 10 pounds from January 1, 2012 – yippee! I am working out consistently 3 days a week and I feel great! This year I decided that it was time to re-adjust how I looked at weight loss and my health. Rather than my normal All or Nothing approach (I am an Aries through and through) I decided that I had to make lifestyle changes that would fit into my life and then stick to them, even when I completely fail. So when I gained lots of weight during the business trip to Florida, I came home, squeezed back into my clothes and got back into the good habits that I have been working on all year. I am sure, had I not been enjoying all of the dinners and lunches with friends, the magnificent wine with my significant other and the occasional chocolate indulgence, I could have lost the other 25 pounds that I need to lose to reach a healthy weight but what I have found is that I really like the life I have and I would rather take it slow and enjoy the times with those who mean the most to me than focus on losing weight quickly. What has helped is this, a little quote I read somewhere: “The Best Part of the Meal is the Conversation”, how cool is that. I’ve tried to remember that when I am out with friends and the focus seems to be on the food. Sometimes it works and sometimes, well, let’s just say that I am happy with the slow and steady progress I am making!
Magically I have never been busier. I am working on some spell bottles and amulets for the shop as well as Altar cloths and ritual baskets. Because these have to be done during certain moon phases and on specific days in order to be the best they can be I do not always have the ones that I want to in stock. This year I am setting aside 1 week a month to create exactly what I need. It is amazing how much better I feel when I am focusing on my magical and spiritual side.  For the first time in a very, very long time I feel comfortable in my own skin. Some of that comes with being at the Crone phase of my life, some of it comes from the lessons I have learned the past few years, regardless, I am loving life right now!
I have lots of great things planned next year. I’ll be sharing more projects complete with “How-To” directions, recipes, spells, and more.
Next up… 2013 Resolutions, Goals & Priorities

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas

To those of you who celebrate Christmas, I hope  you have a lovely day!


Friday, December 21, 2012

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Yarnigras Ornament Swap has Arrived!

This year I was pleased to take part in Yarnigras handmade ornament swap. You can see the ornaments I sent here.

Here are the ornaments that I received in the swap.

The one below was wrapped so nicely I didn't want to open it... but I am glad I did!

And to make the swap even better I received a fun thank you gift, just for swapping!

Wow! I can't wait to hand all of these lovely ornaments on my tree. Thank you to everyone who participated and especially a huge Thank you to Val at Yarnigras for hosting such an awesome swap!

Monday, December 17, 2012

The 2012 Yule Tree

This year the annual trek to get our Yule tree occurred just after Thanksgiving and, thankfully, before any snow had fallen in the valley.
I love having a real tree for Yule. We cut our tree from a designated tree cutting area, following the specific standards outlined by the Forestry Service. Each year we select a tree that we can honor during our celebration and in doing so we also make the habitat better for the trees still there.
This year we found a beautiful pine, not too big, not too small. I searched for quite some time before I found just the right one. I always know when I’ve found our tree because when I see it, it’s like “Oh, there you are! Let’s go home”.
While we have had some stunning trees, occasionally, the tree that I know is ours is not quite the epitome of beauty. And on those occasions, my family has looked at me as though I have lost my mind, though they always cut down the tree I find and more often than not they have to carry it up a hill to the truck.
Once our tree comes home we take care of it, be sure it has plenty of water and then when we have as many of the kids home as possible we decorate it for the season.  After the holiday we save part of the tree for firewood and recycle the rest. Our tree will end up being used as mulch in one of the local parks.
This year the kids are flying in on the 18th, so our tree is patiently waiting for its holiday clothes. I like to sit in that room, near the tree and read, it is so peaceful and smells like the forest; mysterious,  clean and… magical!
Once she is all decked out in her holiday finery I'll share a picture of this year's tree

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Homemade Marshmallows

This year I am giving my coworkers little hot chocolate mugs. They are quick and easy, fairly inexpensive and just about everyone likes hot chocolate. To add a little something extra I made marshmallows. I googled recipes and found several that I liked.

Marshmallows are easy to make though they do take some time to cool. Once you get them in the pan they need to sit for at least 6 hours though preferably over night.

Here are some pictures of the process

The recipe I found called for unflavored gelatin, light corn syrup, granulated sugar, water and vanilla.

To keep the marshmallows white you are supposed to use clear vanilla. I could only find imitation vanilla that was clear. Then we found powered vanilla. It was a natural vanilla product which was white so I took a chance and bought it. I made a batch of marshmallows with each type of vanilla and amazingly there was no difference in taste or color - so either product works for this recipe. When using the powered vanilla you use the same amount you would use in liquid form - easy peasy!

To get started you combine most of the ingredients and cook them to the "soft ball" stage on a candy thermometer. Once that is done you pour this incredibly hot mixture into a metal bowl and beat it with a mixer until it doubles in volume.

Pour into a pan which has been covered with aluminum foil and then coated with butter. Then you cover it and let it sit.

When the marshmallow is ready you can cut it into square blocks or use cookie cutters to cut shapes. Either way you decide to cut them you will need to coat your cutting implement with cooking spray.
These were really sticky when transferring from bowl to pan but the next day they were not as sticky as I thought they would be. I chose a snowman cookie cutter and was really pleased with the results. I'll be bagging these in individual holiday bags and tucking them into the mugs of coco resulting in an easy, inexpensive, yet personal gift.

Since I had such great luck making regular marshmallows I had to step it up a bit. The next batch I made was flavored with Banana Vanilla Rum I  got when I was in the Caribbean last year. The flavor is outstanding though I was too impatient and did not mix them long enough so they were flat. I'll be making a new batch of those later today.

The key to the Rum flavored marshmallows is this: instead of adding water to the gelatin you add rum. My recipe called for 1/2 cup of water to 3 packets of gelatin, I substituted 1/2 cup of rum for the water. Yum.

A couple of tips:

If your home is on the cool side you probably don't need to beat the mix for 15 minutes, I only needed to let it mix for 13 minutes, then my mixer started to protest!

Butter the spatula you use to spread the mixture into the pan

My marshmallows were not sticky enough to hold the toppings like the picture in the recipe, however, I live in a very dry climate, you results may be different.

Try adding different flavors to the gelatin, the rum is good. I've also heard of people making Irish Cream flavored marshmallows.

Keep in mind that you are not cooking off the alcohol when you add it to the mix, while some of it will burn off due tot he high heat of the mix you can not be sure how much is left so I would not recommend serving these to children :)

Friday, December 14, 2012

My Heart is Breaking

Listening to the news today, about the senseless tragedy that has occurred in Connecticut has made me realize, once again, that life is too short, too unpredictable to take for granted. I can't even begin to imagine the pain that community, those families are going through. My heart breaks for them. I can only offer heartfelt prayer and send love and strength.

With a heavy heart,


Monday, December 10, 2012

Busy End of the Year

This time of the year is usually so busy I forget to enjoy it. Not this  year, after my disastrous October, I have made sure that I am not only in the moment, I am enjoying and experiencing each moment of the season. I have so much going on right now, I am busy from the time I wake up (4:00 am to work out - ouch) until I drop into bed at 10:00 or 11:00 and it is all because I am surrounded by family and friends that I love. So while I may be extra super busy I am also extra super lucky to be this busy.

I have holiday parties that I have been attending, gifts and cards that I have been making, a baby shower to attend this week and a baby blanket that I finished embroidering last night. My house is almost finished being decorated and I have some yummy treats to bake. Add to that, my middle son and his lovely girlfriend will be arriving next week for the holiday and I am in full holiday mode.

What I have found is that since I have decided to enjoy the craziness, I am less stressed, getting more done and generally just loving this season. I will not let my crazy schedule get in the way of celebrating the wonder of life again. I hope you all are enjoying the traditions and joys of this season with those you love.

I'll be posting some pictures of the gifts I have been working on and the great tree hunt adventure this week.

Have a great day!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

All Done!

Here it is. I am so pleased with it!!!
Don’t you just love it when a project comes together exactly as you pictured it? That is how this top worked for me. I had some glitches along the way - the curtain shirt template was a tad tight so I made a larger size in this one – oops, that didn’t work out so well – I had to alter it by taking in 1.5 inches on each side so that it fit me and now it fits beautifully.
Since I had such luck with the shirt I got out the Santa suit to try it on and found that I had to take in the pants. A Lot! They have been altered and everything now fits like it is supposed to.
I am all ready for next weekend!