Sunday, December 25, 2011

The Descent into the Holiday Maelstrom

I'm sorry, everyone. I got captured. I sailed into the torrid waters of the Midwestern Triangle once again this year. You know the one: Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. The ones that suck you into a death grip of sugar, stress and over-stimulation.

But it's done! DONE! And you know what? Even with all the craziness, I still managed to celebrate Yule with my husband and friends. It wasn't huge, or even very long, but it was so peaceful and fun. I went to a solstice bonfire, created a Yule log centerpiece, had traditional solstice Papa John's pizza, and wrapped up the night with a winter wishes spell and several Monty Python sketches. 

This was the first year I really tried to focus on Yule over Christmas prep. And you know what? It was one of the most relaxing holiday times I've ever had. 

So yes, the New Year is coming up and soon I'll be docking back to reality and writing again. There will be photos. There will be jokes. There will be random Pagan historical discoveries (I've been reading books NOT published by Llewelyn this winter.). And there will absolutely be crafting experiments - both successes and fails. 

Merry Yule, Happy Ongoing Hanukkah to any Jewish buddies out there, Merry Late Christmas (breath, the chaos is over!), and Happy early New Year!
Interesting. A "Holiday stress" search gives me nothing but Xmas photos...

Friday, September 23, 2011

Practical Magic Blog Partying!

 Last year's party was a great excuse for me to mix one of my favorite witchy movies with amigurumi. And this year I can mix the movie with my new found love of freezer paper!

Roses are a big theme in the movie and next week my middle school kids and I will be using rose stencils to design our own shirts. Granted, the middle school version won't be followed by the kids becoming possessed by the ghost of Jimmy Angelove. :) I thought I'd pass on the really easy & cheap technique. 

Materials Needed
-         Freezer paper (you can find it for cheap at most grocery stores)
-         Something you’d like to stencil (shirts, jeans, paper, almost all surfaces work for this)
-         Image to stencil
-         Permanent marker
-         Craft cutting board or cardboard
-         Exacto or craft knife
-         Iron
-         Sponge brush
-         Acrylic paint of the color of your choice
-    Optional: An extremely cute hamster that has escaped from his ball while photographing.

All total this costs about $15-$20, but it takes very little freezer paper and paint to do one stencil. Once you have the items, the only thing that may cost money is the thing you want to stencil on.

Step 1: Trace your image onto the freezer paper with the shiny side down (the shiny side is what will stick and peel off of the surface easily).
Step 2: Cut out your design with the exacto/craft knife. Make sure you think through how you’re going to do this ahead of time. Some parts can get lost in cutting if they’re not attached to the rest of the drawing – like a circle within a circle.

Step 3: Iron your surface smooth if it’s fabric. Place the stencil shiny side down where you’d like it to be and iron it onto the surface. This keeps the paper sticking to the surface so you don’t have paint bleeding under the paper (I wrecked a shirt twice like this.).
Step 4: Create a paint pallet and dab the paint onto the stenciled surface. DO NOT USE STROKES! This will move the paper around and cause bleeding.
Step 5: You don’t even have to wait for this to dry! Carefully peel off your stencil, and you’re done!

Monday, September 12, 2011

And the Winner Is...

...Daffy from Batcrap Crazy! And for those of you who didn't catch it, here's Daffy's absolutely hilarious bonus joke - not to mention a great one from Mrs. BC as well. :) Thanks guys!

A man and a woman were seated next to each other in the first class section of an airplane.
The woman sneezed, took out a tissue, gently wiped her nose, then visibly shuddered for ten to fifteen seconds.

The man went back to his reading. A few minutes later, the woman sneezed again, took a tissue, wiped her nose,then shuddered violently once more.

Assuming that the woman might have a cold, the man was still curious about the shuddering. A few more minutes passed when the woman sneezed yet again. As before, she took a tissue, wiped her nose, her body shaking even more than before.

Unable to restrain his curiosity, the man turned to the woman and said, "I couldn't help but notice that you've sneezed three times, wiped your nose and then shuddered violently. Are you OK?"

"I am sorry if I disturbed you, I have a very rare medical condition; whenever I sneeze I have an orgasm."

The man, more than a bit embarrassed, was still curious.
"I have never heard of that condition before," he said.
"Are you taking anything for it?"

The woman nodded, "Pepper.
A guy goes to the supermarket and notices an attractive woman waving at him. She says hello.

He's rather taken aback because he can't place where he knows her from.

So he says, 'Do you know me?'

To which she replies, 'I think you're the father of one of my kids.'

Now his mind travels back to the only time he has ever been unfaithful to his wife and says, 'Are you the stripper from the bachelor party that I made love to on the pool table with all my buddies watching while your partner whipped my butt with wet celery???'
She looks into his eyes and says calmly, 'No, I'm your son's teacher.'

Friday, September 2, 2011

Witch City Wicks Giveaway!

In most video games when you get a vile of dragon's blood, you're supposed to chuck it at things to make them explode. Drinking it causes your character to get hurt, and you to start yelling at your husband, "Why did you DO that!? Quick! Get a potion of healing!" This is not one of those kinds of dragon's blood. This kind of dragon's blood comes in soy form. And I'm pretty sure that when you light the wick, it doesn't explode. :)

The candle is from Witch City Wicks - a soy candle Etsy store out of Salem, Massachusetts who has very kindly offered to donate one of its products to my giveaway! If you've never tried a soy candle before, I highly recommend it. They're a much nicer alternative to the cheap kind from the grocery store as they burn longer, and have wax that can be cleaned up easily with soap and water (good news for a witch like me who often has issues with wax in the carpet hairs). Not to mention, Witch City Wicks has some of the best names for their candles. Dragon's Blood is my current favorite, but I also enjoy Greenman, Tainted Love, and Bondage. If you'd like to win one of their products, here's what you do:

1. Be a follower through Blogger or Facebook. (1pt.)
2. Go to Witch City Wicks' Etsy page and check out their products. Come back here and comment on which one is your favorite. (1pt)
3. Leave a comment for me. (1pt) Preferably with a joke. (1pt)
4. Post a link to this giveaway on your blog & comment with the link (3pts)

I will be randomly drawing a winner on Monday, September 12th.

Good luck! :)

Monday, August 29, 2011

The Dark Side of Wicca, or, Forcefully Digging Up My Roots

I was going to write about the aerial acrobatics I saw over the weekend. I was going to write about magickal movement. But this subject will have to wait until another day because I've finally hit the point where I'm quite miffed with my local new agers.

If you keep up with my insanity, you know that I recently read the book, Diary of a Witch, by Sybil Leek. I wouldn't have pursued this book were it not for the fact that I have been grossly disappointed in the lack of history provided in most books on Wicca & Witchcraft lately. I've looked through my own collection and tried to sort out the truly informative books from the ones that offer just mild summaries. Unfortunately, none seem to cover the topic. They skip right to the "makin' magick" sections. Even Scott Cunningham takes a great leap over hundreds of years of history to magickal correspondences in his introductory books. Edain McCoy? Nothing. Laurie Cabot!? Zip! Phyllis Curott!? The woman whose book, Book of Shadows, inspired me to learn about Wicca in the first place!? Zilch.

I don't know if this pattern stems from historical ignorance, the need to sell books, or simple apathy. Whatever the reason, I've been on a quest for the last year to find as much material on Wiccan history as I can so I can spout more than just incantations (This way I can know where they come from). In addition to the Sybil Leek book I've read Gerald Gardner's, Witchcraft Today, Margot Adler's, Drawing Down the Moon, and most of Michael Howard's, Modern Wicca. The Golden Bough is also on my shelf, though remains a permanent hurdle next to War and Peace

For a long time the next book on my list has been, Diary of a Drug Fiend, by Aleister Crowley. And here's where the madness begins yet again. It seems that not only are Wiccan authors content to skip our history, but they are also intent on removing Aleister Crowley from the picture. While I've come to learn that he was quite the, well, drug fiend, womanizer, sadomasochist, and black magick artist, it doesn't give me an excuse to ignore his contributions to modern magick and Wicca. He might have been considered the most evil man in the world in the mid 1900's, but he also met with many famous witches - not to mention two of which were Gardner and Leek. And while his definition of magick alone ("the science and art of causing change in conformity of will") has been referenced in numerous books on magick and witchcraft, Crowley himself seems to disappear from texts.

In search of Mr. Crowley, I first tried my local new age store. Nothing. Not even a bibliography on the man. I asked at the front desk and got an offer to order. I went in order of books stores down the street.  Neither of the used bookstores had anything by or about him. And when I stopped at the other new age store and asked the sales attendant  if they carried any books on him she said, "No. We like to keep our material positive here." WHAT!? This is why we Wiccans are portrayed as tripped out hippies lady! Just because something isn't kittens and ponies doesn't mean it's not IMPORTANT! I briefly considered becoming a Satanist until I remembered Anton Levay's, The Satanic Bible (Yes. I read it. If I'm going to be accused of Satanism I should know what I'm not. And I don't think I'm cut out for Satanism. I'm too perky.).

I've resolved myself to finally ordering the AC biography, Do What Thou Wilt, by Lawrence Sutin, off Amazon. It won't be on my shelf for a while, but once I read it I'll let you guys know how it was.

Has anyone else found it unnervingly hard to find good historical data on Wicca? Have you ever hit the wall of "keeping things positive", as I have? I feel like this may be a common thing. Any good suggestions for history books?

By the way, in the list of Wiccan books with diddly squat on history, Silver RavenWolf actually wins for her book, To Ride a Silver Broomstick - just because she actually lists the Wiccan beliefs as set out by the Council of American Witches in 1974, as well as short descriptions on different traditions. It's still not too high a score though, as some of her descriptions err on the side of WAY too basic and even slightly wrong (For example, I'm pretty sure that a solitary witch is not the same as a natural witch.). But I'll stop there. Silver's a whole new topic all on her own. :)

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Stickin' it to the Martha

For the last week I've been pouring through Stumbleupon's craft diy finds and thinking why I haven't been able to figure out how to make some kind of artistic masterpiece out of... I don't know... duct tape, a car bumper, and a live pony. I finally dug through my box o' stuff, and it may not be rocket science, but I came away with something. It's a flower pin that will go to my recently hitched friend - made from a button from her bachelorette party, fake rose petals from her wedding, and embroidered with her initial.
And on a segway rolling 5mph down the street with a little old man on it trying to be cool, yes, I have finally found a background that works, and I'm sticking with it.

P.S. It is currently 3:11AM. I can't sleep and my ear hurts (Making me really wish I could just take off my body parts like those orange guys from Labyrinth.), and I'm just now realizing that I didn't have anything for dinner except some tea and wasabi almonds. But none of that matters too much because I'm giggling at the only thing I can hear over my typing: shuffle, shuffle, shuffle...BANG!...shuffleshuffleshuffleshuffleshuffleBANG! The hamster's in his running ball. :)

Monday, August 22, 2011

Multilingual Magick

For those of you who have ever wondered about the lack of magick posts on here, it mainly has to do with the fact that my spells tend to be of the spontaneous kind. Very rarely am I one to plan out an entire ritual unless it's a holiday. Well, and unless I have time to plan a large ritual.

Last night in celebration of, and in preparation for, the start of the new school year I conducted an impromptu spell to help me draw upon my strengths. I needed to be reminded anew of all the things I was capable of doing and all the things that made me good at what I do. It might sound fairly run-of-the-mill magick, but if you've ever worked in a public school before, you know how political, dramatic, catty and horrible it can get. Going to work for me is like putting on a suit of armor - and this year my armor is a very heart-felt protection circle latched to my very skin. When you work with mostly women, and students with behavioral problems, you need it.

Something was different about this spell, though, in that I switched to Spanish in the middle. I am not fluent but I know enough to get me through a conversation. The spell came out as a bilingual one. And it must have worked well because when I had to draw on my Spanish today I was babbling with fluidity that I don't normally have (This is always extremely fun to me because of the look I get from the Latino parents when I start talking in Spanish. It's the one of pure relief and surprise that says, "Thank you, GOD! The small white girl can speak Spanish!).

Often times in Wicca we talk about the power of colors, symbols, elements, or beat. I think the spoken word gets lost in the correspondences. And personally, I find that Spanish is one of those things that I turn to when the flat and guttural sounds of American English just don't get across the feeling I'm going for. There's something powerful in rolling my R's, and calming in pronouncing those soft D's right in between my teeth. Although I know what I'm saying, it almost makes the magick I'm working that much more mysterious and emotional. Maybe it's the slight unfamiliarity I have with the language that does it.

I also speak a bit (a very very very petite bit) of French (At least enough to utter the phrase, "I can't study the history of the badger anymore! I've had enough!), and even that gets added into my spellwork occasionally.

I'm very curious to know. What are your experiences with language and magick? Do you switch between languages, and if so, which ones? Do you think we could put correspondences to languages just as we put them to the cardinal directions, altar tools, etc?

I think languages can be magickal, and switching between them almost even more so. Then again, languages can be hilarious too - something that can't always be said for our other magickal correspondences. :)

Friday, August 19, 2011

Doggy Demento, Tofu, and a Question for Moms

When I was in high school I got it into my head that I needed a new breed of pet. Hamsters were cute and all, but I was running out of small boxes and spots to bury them in the back yard. So out of the blue I opted for a parakeet. I named him Hermes and trained him more or less well, albeit the fact that most of his training involved trial and error with the windows. Nevertheless, after a few months my younger brother decided that he also wanted a parakeet. And that's how Tofu came into our family. You may be wondering what this amigurumi dog has to do with a small, blue bird. Well, the demented look on the dog's face (you know, the one that says, "I hunt the mice around the house by bashing my head into the wall!"), was the same one plastered to Tofu's that made him annoying beyond all reason yet strangely cute. 

The Tofu with wings managed to get himself stuck in our chandelier, inside a dresser drawer, and briefly, inside a toilet paper tube. He was also obsessed with defeating the other bird in the bathroom mirror, and frequently moved the battle to the reflections in the windows and to those of the spoons on the dining room table. They must have had differing political views because often times the spoons would go flying off the table edge with a satisfied and vengeful looking bird glaring down at them.

The following tofu has no wings, and gets along fairly well with spoons. Also, my amigurumi dog will be up for sale shortly, as will the pattern. Isn't train of thought fun? Ooh! Trains!
Cooking Adventure: Lime Curry Tofu Stir-fry
The Bellydance Soundtrack: Slavgnostik by Unkle Ho
Prep Time: 10-15 min.
Cook Time: 15-20 min.

I made this extremely delicious veggie meal after a full day of babysitting my nieces. I gave my four year-old niece the job of choosing lunch and she picked Kraft mac n' cheese, wafer cookies, and blueberries (the blueberries were so we could "be healthy"). While I seem to have lost my taste for powdered cheese a bit, I will say that it made making lunch for the girls really easy. As I was cutting up the veggies for this meal I had to wonder: How do you moms DO this? How to moms find time to make healthy meals for their kids? Especially since the easiest & quickest things to pick up from the store and whip together are not always the healthiest? I'd be very interested to know how those of you who are moms manage this, and if some of you could share your easy recipes with the rest of us. That, and do you have one arm that is ungodly muscular? I carried around the one year-old all day, and cuteness doesn't necessarily correlate with a decrease in weight. People kept passing me in the grocery store saying, "Aw! She's adorable!" I felt like saying, "Really? That's so nice of you to say! Would you like to carry her around for an hour while the feeling comes back into my arm?" Don't get me wrong. I love my nieces, but once they become accessories attached to me for too long the cuteness starts to wear off a bit.

Okay. I'm breathing. I feel better now. :) Onto the food!

 - 2 tablespoons peanut oil
 - 1 (16 ounce) package extra-firm tofu, cut
into bite-sized cubes
 - 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger root
 - 2 tablespoons red curry paste
 - 1 pound zucchini, diced
 - 1 red bell pepper, diced
 - 3 tablespoons lime juice
 - 3 tablespoons fish sauce (The original recipe calls for soy sauce. Don't use that. Use fish sauce. Smells really funky on it's own. Tastes amazing when blended with other stuff.)
 - 2 tablespoons maple syrup
 - 1 (14 ounce) can coconut milk
 - 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
1. Heat the peanut oil in a wok or large skillet over high heat. Add the tofu and stir-fry until golden brown. Remove the tofu and set aside, leaving the remaining oil in the wok. 
2. Stir the ginger and curry paste into the hot oil for a few seconds until the curry paste is fragrant and the ginger begins to turn golden. Add the zucchini and bell pepper; cook and stir for 1 minute. Pour in the lime juice, fish sauce, maple syrup, coconut milk, and tofu. Bring the coconut milk to a simmer, and cook a few minutes until the vegetables are tender and the tofu is hot. Stir in the chopped basil just before serving. 
**Serve over rice. I used basmati & that works fairly well.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Mental Blockage

Do you think that if I drink Drain-o and wait fifteen minutes before rinsing my mouth out with water that it would remove the blockage from my brain today? I think it might. Although, not in the way I'd want. The last thing I want to do is have my spirit staring up at the Goddess hearing, "Just for that, your next life will be as a tapeworm."

The brain clog is mainly keeping me from finishing this latest pattern. I swear it started out as a capybara. Then it sort of morphed. For a while it was a dinosaur. then it became a dismembered puppy. This project started last Thursday and has gone on five days too long. The little fucker better turn out cute. BE CUTE DAMN IT! Isn't the amigurumi process precious?
I checked out the house yesterday and it was, unfortunately, too small. The loft bedroom had a low enough ceiling that my husband bumped right into the hanging fan. Nothing weird about the place, although we found out why it had no taxes listed. It is currently being sold by the local Benedictine convent. That also explains the crucifixes in every room. Unlike my dismembered ami dog at the moment, the house was cute, just not the right fit - literally.

I suppose I have to abandon my dreams of designing it (something I secretly do with all the houses I look at). I'll have to go back to small, artsy-fartsy projects involving duct tape and toilet paper tubes. <sigh> You know, someone should really figure out a diy way to kidnap and enslave Martha Stewart's design team. That way I can entertain like this and be hated yet loved by all women! Mwa ha ha ha! I need to get out.

Monday, August 15, 2011

New Wallpaper & Weird Houses

It is absolutely amazing how long you can spend searching for a just the right blog background. Long enough to watch all of the movie, "Stardust" and still have time for surfing. I suppose one day I'll pony up the money and get a custom template. Though for now I think this will do.

I finally took the music off the sidebar too after realizing that if it bugs me to suddenly have music pop up (especially when I haven't been careful and my speakers are turned up to 11), then it probably bugs other people as well. Besides, if anyone misses the tunes, they can always look up one of the recipes with the bellydance song of the day.

 Today I'm finally getting a well-deserved rest after a good two weeks of out-and-aboutness. This weekend my husband was out of town for a roller derby ref training in Minnesota - leaving me without the car. Being two wheels and a few horsepower short, I've been walking and biking everywhere this weekend. Including, but not limited to, a two hour hike to an open house and back.

If I weren't actually looking for houses, I'd probably still go see the open ones. It's almost like getting to take a tour of your own neighborhood.  Plus, you get to see all the weird things people do with there abodes. Yesterday's wasn't too strange - although one woman had ripped up random squares of carpeting in one of the bedrooms. When I asked the realtor what happened, he said the dog chewed up the carpet in those spots. The woman figured she'd just cut off the spots and then replace the whole carpet later. Of course the first thing I thought was, "What the heck kind of dog does she have!?" I imagine it's some kind of mix between a doberman and an evil chihuahua who got so unbearably lonely that it started having its way with the floor.

Other houses I've seen have had cupboards in the kitchen so high that you would have to use a full ladder to reach them. That was the same house that had a mini bath-tub right next to the kitchen, and looked like it would be a great place to shoot a movie about a serial killer. My husband decided that it wasn't the house for us, but rather for a small group of diabolical acrobatic circus midgets. We also saw one that very same day that had a functioning toilet in a closet. Not like a broom closet or a closet-sized room. I mean a working toilet in a walk-in-clothes-hanging-up-fully-carpeted closet. And it's not like the toilet was sectioned off either. You could sit there doing your business while looking right across at a collection of hooker heels (Yes, those were also in the closet.). I can see it now: "Honey, could you hurry up in there? I really have to get dressed!" And could you imagine what would happen if you had real intestinal problems causing you to stink up your bathroom-closet? You'd walk around in putrid clothes that had soaked up the odor of a walking port-a-potty! Ew.
I'm heading out to actually be shown this house today. So of course, I'll let you know what I find. :) If I know it's not for me, then I'm really hoping to find porcupines living in the basement. Ooh! Or possibly a dishwasher attached to the ceiling!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

For Non-Crocheters

If it wasn't a word before, it is now. :) I now have a little pink version of the monkey up in my Etsy shop. I'm already getting ideas for my next project. Maybe I'll try constructing the animal I don't think I'll ever be able to have as a pet. Capybaras!
They're so adorable! They're like giant swimming guinea pigs!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

I Finally Did It!

I'm finally on Etsy with my little monkey man! Just the pattern is up for sale now; though, as per a request from some of my readers, I will be making a few more to sell for those not ready to take up a crochet hook yet. :) You can find him here at The Blue Faerie Boutique. ... Yay!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Lessons Learned at the ER

My town is killing my friends. I feel like the last two times they've come they've had to deal with heat-related maladies and exhaustion in various stages. This time it was both. A group of us went out camping at Blue Mounds State Park (Excellent spot for the beginner camper as it has showers, a pool, and flush toilets. Yeah, we spoiled ourselves this weekend.). We came back from a short hike Saturday morning to take naps, and only to wake up and find that our friend, Lindsey, was sweating profusely and puking up everything that had been or would be in her stomach. We all jumped in the cars and headed for my apartment - a quick drive back into town - to cool her off. When we all realized that Lindsey couldn't keep down liquids, her husband and I made the trip with her to the ER.

I think that if I ever decide I'd like to change career paths, I'm going to see what it takes to become a receptionist/nurse in the ER. I had opted to give Lindsey and her husband a bit of space before I went barging into the room, so I sat in the waiting room watching the comings and goings. Most of it was fairly normal: a guy with a swollen leg, a man suffering an allergic reaction, and several new moms with their newborns panicking over their baby coughing once. But the best by far, was the GIANT man to emerge from the treatment rooms. No hair. No clothes. Very large toga.

Apparently, there was an outdoor rock festival going on just down the road and the ER had been getting people in from their all day suffering from heat exhaustion, way too much alcohol, and/or broken/twisted limbs. It looked like toga man was a victim of the first two because when his friends came in to pick him up he was saying, "It was the heat man! And probably those six beers I drank... I don't even remember how I got over here!" He was the only patient left and there was no TV on, so my eyes kept gravitating back to the construction of the toga and down his side where I don't remember seeing any pants. I decided it was a good time to go visit Lindsey - before my eyes traveled too far.

Lindsey ended up being fine. The doctor had her hooked up to an IV with fluid getting into her system, and she got medication for her nausea and headaches. It was nice of them to give her meds for that, but it's amazing that a trip to McDonald's and plenty of sleep works just as well. Go holistic medicine! So what did we learn from this?

Lesson learned by me: ER waiting rooms are boring and yet highly entertaining - figure out how to work in one.
Lesson learned by Lindsey: On a hot day drink water even when you're not thirsty.
Lesson learned by toga man: Beer does not substitute for water, and you better be fine with the outfit you're wearing because while they'll provide medication, CAT scans and ice packs, the ER will not provide clothes.


Friday, July 29, 2011

Handsy Cinderella and Unphotogenic Mushrooms

My in-laws have been slowly but surely moving into their new abode a few miles down the road. And since sanding floors, pruning trees, painting walls, and assembling Target furniture aren't really appropriate activities for toddlers, my husband and I have become official entertainers of our nieces. Last weekend my oldest niece gave us an extensive tour of her new playroom and the volcano of toys within (while my youngest niece decided that everything must be test-chewed before receiving her personal approval). She is big into dress-up now, and my husband got the honor of playing "The Prince". I told my niece to dress him up to look tough, and this is what she came up with.
But of course, my husband and I are the official aunt and uncle, so we have to do our job to corrupt in the funniest ways possible. We and the girls found a few extra doll arms lying around, so my husband and I took on the task of making up stories just out of child hearing range:
Prince: "Why, Cinderella, you're the most beautiful girl at my ball! And how convenient is it that your grotesque chest arm helps us waltz even faster?"
Cinderella: "Oh, Prince, it can do much more than waltz. Perhaps you should marry me and find out."
Meanwhile, around the corner, the faerie godmother keeps watch.
Mouse Coachman: "Um...did you know that when you sing 'Bibiti Bopity Boo THIRD ARM!' that's what would happen?"
Faerie Godmother: "That's it! You're going back to being a mouse! Bibiti Bopity Boo TYRANNOSAURUS! ... Crap. I have got to see a doctor about this Tourettes." 

I might actually start keeping a record of all the things we do when our nieces are too young to know the difference, and then give it to them when they head off to college. That could be the best birthday present ever.

  Cooking Adventure: Portobello Mushroom Burgers
The Bellydance Soundtrack: Grandstand by Beats Antique
Prep Time: 3-5 min.
Cook Time: 8-10 min.
Meanwhile, in the world of failed photo attempts and recipes lies the almighty portobello burger. Despite the fact that it looks like some kind of dying thing with its tongue lolling out of its mouth, it really does taste amazing. Plus it's easy and quick to make. Plus I got four portobellos for $3.50. They tend to be cheaper when you pull the caps off the stems at the grocery store. Can you do that? I mean, people do it with ginger root and it's okay. I don't know. It's possible that I've ripped off the Roundy's corporation a bit. Totally worth it for now though. :)

 - 2 cloves garlic, minced
 - 6 tablespoons olive oil
 - 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
 - 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
 - salt and pepper to taste
 - 4 large portobello mushroom caps
 - 4 hamburger buns
 - 1 tablespoon capers (I'm really not a fan of capers, so I leave them out.)
 - 1/4 cup mayonnaise
 - 1 tablespoon capers, drained (Again, yuck for me, but maybe not for you.)
 - 1 large tomato, sliced
 - 4 leaves lettuce

1. Turn on broiler, and adjust rack so it is as close to heat source as possible. 
2. In a medium-size mixing bowl, mix together garlic, olive oil, thyme, vinegar, salt and pepper. 
3. Put the mushroom caps, bottom side up, in a shallow baking pan. Brush the caps with 1/2 the dressing. Put the caps under the broiler, and cook for 5 minutes. 
4. Turn the caps, and brush with the remaining dressing. Broil 4 minutes. Toast the buns lightly . 
5. In a small bowl, mix capers and mayonnaise. Spread mayonnaise mixture on the buns, top with mushroom caps, tomato and lettuce.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

A Witch's History: Sybil Leek

Lately there have been rumblings and grumblings amongst several Pagan blogs that our community's teaching methods have become a bit washed out. To put it better way, that quickie-witch books have taken over the shelves and have cheapened the extremely hard work, extensive training and research that many high priests and priestesses have gone through. You know the books  - the ones on display at Barnes & Noble that declare, "Turn your boyfriend into a toad!" Or the ones that have a six page chapter on the basics of Wicca and then jump right into, "Now you're a witch! Here's a spell for money! Here's a spell for love! Here's a spell to make your cupcake recipes even more cute!" Okay, that last one could be kind of fun.

In the spirit of improving my own training, I have been on the lookout for books outside of the Llywellyn genre - I just find that they publish a good chunk of the quickie-witch books without concise bibliographies or good editing. This completely explains why I picked up a copy of Sybil Leek's autobiography, Diary of a Witch. I really didn't know anything about her before I bought the book, but here's a very quick summary of what she writes. 

Sybil Leek was born in England to what I gather to be a fairly well-off family. She is a hereditary witch, and learned the arts of herbalism, astrology and transcendental meditation from her grandmother as a girl. She married early and after only two years her husband passed away. Afterward she went to live with a group of gypsies for the better part of a year - adding their lore of herbs to her own knowledge. Later in life she traveled around the U.S. doing TV appearances, ghost hunting, and connecting with the flower children of the 60's. 

I am not one to readily believe in psychics or ghosts, so it was difficult for me to get through parts of DoaW. Especially hard for me was her insistence that astrology is a science and should be fully researched and used for the good of humanity. She writes that astrological charts should be given to babies at birth, so that doctors can know what illnesses will come up in their lives and when. I think she gives way to much credence to astrology, and sort of reminds me of the girlfriend in "This is Spinal Tap" who bases the band's schedule off astrological charts. :)

Sybil Leek is also a proponent of reincarnation to the point where she is convinced that one day science will be able to prove its existence. She claims to have gone on a ghost hunting trip where she discovered a human thigh bone in a previously undiscovered secret passage, and then says she brought the thigh bone home to her young son as a gift. She also believed that the Krishna Conscious group would become a very influential force in the future.

Despite the fact that I am skeptical about her views on psychic abilities and the role of mysticism in science, not to mention that all her adventures went exactly as she claims, I did enjoy the book as a way of looking at the evolution of witchcraft through the mid 1900s. It's interesting to hear about how she is perceived in European vs. American culture. I also enjoyed her description of the flower children during her jaunt in Los Angeles:

"I liked the flower children with their naive approach to life and their childlike energy. Yet there is something infinitely sad in seeing so many beautiful young people leading aimless lives, playing around with bits of clay, making collages from garbage cans in the belief that they are entering a great new renaissance. I found that few of them seemed able to cope with life without the aid of drugs which took them to a world of fantasy as an escape route."

It is also extremely interesting for me, a witch in her 20's, to see the divide starting between traditional witchcraft - often passed down through families - and more modern-day teach-yourself witchcraft. Sybil Leek wrote that the vast majority of the flower children interested in witchcraft could not maintain the discipline it took to be a practicing witch, and most of them were more keen to hear stories about Leek's encounters with Aleister Crowley. Hm. Could this be the beginning of life-long fluffy bunnies? :) (I use the term "life-long fluffy bunnies" because, let's face it, we were all that once. We just always hope we grow out of it with experience. And yes, I too thought it was "athame" that rhymes with game and "tarot" that rhymes with carrot.)

I haven't read any of Sybil Leek's other books. I'd be interested to hear from others who have.  This book really doesn't talk about her husbands or children much at all and I'd like to know more about her personal life rather than hearing her arguments on the validity of mystic practices. If you haven't read anything by her though, I think DoaW is a good place to start. It's a definite escape from, "Achieve astral projection in only five minutes!"

Oh, and on a complete side note, Celia over at Adventures of the Striped Stockings is hosting a giveaway from some very beautiful faerie prints. Or as my niece would say, "FAERIES! AND PRINCESSES! AND FAERIES! OH MY GOD I'M GOING TO FORGET MY POTTY TRAINING, I'M SO EXCITED!" Hm. It's probably a good thing that kids don't actually talk the way I imagine.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

For Women Only

Wait, do I have any male readers? Well, if I do then don't read this post. It will gross you out. 

You're still reading, aren't you?

Stop it!

Anyhow, a few days ago I was perusing the grocery store aisles and realized I needed more girly supplies, or "wands of power" as I like to call them. I stopped in front of the tampon section and just stared. And I don't know what caused this, but all of a sudden I was really tired of buying the little fuckers. I was tired of having to ask my husband to pick them up sometimes. I was tired of having to explain to him that there are scented ones that he should avoid. I was tired of having to even wonder why the heck I need to smell like lavender down there. I didn't think I would ever come across a day when a friend would sniff my crotch in a friendly greeting and say, "My, my! You smell divine today!"

So I passed up the wands, took a trip down to the hippie pharmacy and picked myself up a Diva cup. Menstrual cups were something I learned about in my women's studies course in college. At the time I remember thinking, "Woah, whoah, woah. You have to put your hand where? And you have to empty it and wash it, and... ewww! And I don't like you TA! So screw you and you're crazy holistic mumbo jumbo! My tampons and I will bid you adieu." But with all the issues I've had by now with tampons leaking and pads getting moved around and underwear being thrown out, I'm finally ready to give it a try.

If you've never heard of this before, a menstrual cup is a collector rather than an absorber. The idea is that you insert the cup, don't worry about it for 10-12 hours (Yes. You saw it right. None of that every four to six hour stuff.), take it out, dump out the contents in the toilet, wash it off in the sink, and reinsert for another 10-12 hours. It might sound nasty, because really, who doesn't get grossed out by blood. Then again, how many of us women folk have had to deal with that anyway when washing spotty underwear, losing our grip on a tampon and ripping off a pad from our skivvies.

They are apparently reusable for years - one woman reviewing it said she had had hers for ten and it was still going strong. It comes with this cute little pouch and a Diva pin. I have the feeling that after a few months of not having to worry about buying tampons, running out of tampons, forgetting to change the tampon, and for GODS' SAKES, trying to pee without hitting the damn tampon string, I'll definitely feel like a diva. :P

See, men? Now aren't you creeped out? Think you might have read too much? You should have listened. And the only way you can get back at me, is if you do a review of some kind of strange male device. Like the portable male urinal. Weird....

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Look, Ma! I'm Naked!

I discovered the concept of boudoir photography a few days ago and was instantly intrigued. I'm always on the lookout for real photos of women, and several times have actually contemplated trying to start my own health magazine/e-zine with NO photo-shopped images. I ended up stumbling into this site: The Nu Project. The photographer, Matt Blum, has an amazing collection of non-model nude photos of differently shaped women. His only rules are: no models and no getting ready. My favorite is one from his studio gallery that is a close up shot of the lines created from the torso and legs when a woman curls up in a ball.

Even my favorite health magazine, Whole Living, is full of perfect-looking bodies. Cosmo, Self, and even Women's Health certainly aren't any different either. It's inspiring to see someone working with the natural lines and imperfections of the human body for once.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Life Without My Computer...

 Cooking Adventure: Lowfat Banana Bread
Source: The Good Housekeeping Cookbook
The Bellydance Soundtrack: Snake Charmer by Bassnectar
Prep Time: 5-10 min.
Cook Time: 40-45 min. extremely productive. This summer has come to be much less busy than I anticipated after my volunteering plans fell through. As a result I've had the potential to be on the computer playing games, well, all day. And everyday. Last week I made the rule for myself that I can't be on the computer between 9AM and 4PM on the weekdays. The only way I can stay on later - until 9:30 - is if I'm dressed by 8:30AM, and the only way I can get on earlier - at 3:30PM - is if I get all my chores done. The result is a strangely clean apartment and a job application & resume sent in. Not only that, but I've gotten busier. Since I can't while away the hours play the Sims, I've been calling buddies, volunteering to teach dance, cooking going on photography hikes, seeing my nieces more and coloring. Yes, the My Little Ponies coloring book is slowly but surely being filled up.

If you're one of those people who can browse Facebook for hours, or blog surf the whole day, I highly recommend trying this for a week. If you're not in it for breaking the habit, at least be in it for the banana bread. :)

This was the first batch of banana bread I've ever made, and I feel like I've passed some kind of cooking basic skills test. Then yesterday I lost points again for opening a can of coconut milk with one of those openers that cuts around the edge. I put the top back on the can, forgot I had opened it, and five minutes later was covered with the resulting coconut explosion after I tried to get honey to the bottom of the jar by banging it on top of the can lid.

 - 1.5 cups all-purpose flour
 - 1/2 cup sugar
 - 1 tsp. baking powder
 - 1/2 tsp. baking soda
 - 1/2 tsp. salt
 - 1 cup mashed very ripe bananas (2 medium)
 - 1/3 cup applesauce (I used regular, but experimenting with flavored ones could taste really good)
 - 2 large egg whites
 - 1 large egg
 - 1/4 cup pecans, chopped

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease 9" by 5" meal loaf pan. In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In medium bowl, with fork, mix bananas, applesauce, egg whites, and egg until well blended. Stir banana mixture into flour mixture just until flour mixture is moistened. 
2. Pour batter into prepared pan; sprinkle with chopped pecans. Bake until toothpick inserted in center comes out almost clean, 40-45 minutes. Cool in pan on wire rack 10 minutes; remove from pan and  cool completely on wire rack. Makes 1 loaf, 16 slices.

On an almost complete segway, this is the Bellydance Soundtrack for today. I'm heading off to teach a group of middle school girls, who think they know everything already, how to bellydance. This is the song I'm using for a mini-choreography. I would love to think of it but all I can do is watch Rachel Brice and think that only people with bodies shaped just like that must be able to do those tummy tricks (I try to undulate like that but I have stuff in the way! :P).

Saturday, July 23, 2011

New Photo Page Up

Well, nature must have taken pity on us Wisconsinites - at least for a little bit. My trip out to the conservancy on Thursday was a beautiful, cloudy & cool evening. The guide for our group challenged us to consider extremes in our photos. While I did work on some wide angle shots, I'm still a close-up person at heart. My extremes ranged in the short category. And seeing as I'm pretty short already, I didn't have to bend down too far to get these.

This blog is a bit more conducive to writing rather than displaying large scale pictures. I've created a separate photo blog for all those times I have way more pictures to display than there is space on the page. :) You can find the rest here at Spatula Wand Photography.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

You can't get me in here!

That's what I've been giggling over this last heat wave week. Yet I feel that the fire elementals are still making their point every time I think I've won. Yesterday I tried taking shelter in the YMCA, a place that boldly declared on it's changeable-letters sign, "Beat the heat inside!" Alas, the workout studio had no air conditioning and the fans only served to redistribute the really warm air. As if that wasn't bad enough, the door connecting the studio to the day care center was open because those guys didn't have air conditioning either. I poked my head in to see three YMCA employees trying to desperately calm five toddlers who were in the middle of a crying chain (i.e. One of those instances where one kid begins to wail, which leads to another kid thinking, "That's right! I've been meaning to cry and scream and freak out over nothing!" It creates a chain reaction of sobbing that cannot be consoled except by terrible, plodding, heat-wave-injected time.). 

Today will be another battle when I head to the subzero temperatures the dentist's office and declare victory even as the hygienist flosses my bleeding gums like she's excavating for gold or something and brightly asks, "You're not a flosser, are you?" The heat will most likely win out again this afternoon when I go on my first Madison Photography Meetup session out at one of the local conservancies for an hour-long guided photo hike. Hm... I feel that I need to tally up the points. Let's see what the score is so far:
American Players Theatre
Point: The Blue Faerie
Yes, it was outside, but it was also in a valley with plenty of breeze and outfitted with gift shops that had air conditioning that you had to walk against to get inside. Sweet.


Peck's Farm Market mini zoo
Point: Element of Fire
My husband and I left too early for the theater so we had to kill some time. We ended up messing with the baby chickens for a while (for some reason they were obsessed with large feathers & if you stuck one in the cage it became a huge game of keep away), but getting very hot and grumpy at the same time.

Allen Centennial Gardens 
Point: Element of Fire
I wore the wrong shoes for long walks. The garden offices weren't open so there was no shelter. I hadn't had anything to drink in the last four hours. My family & I went to a bar shortly afterward and I gulped down two large glasses of water in three minutes.

Allen Centennial Gardens
Point: No point. Both Fire and I thought this was hilarious. :)


The Little Gym
Point: The Blue Faerie
Not only was this place air conditioned, but it was adorable. It was my niece's 4 year birthday party and all the kids got to run around and jump on the mini gymnastics equipment. Meanwhile, my other niece, she's almost 1, was completely ready to suddenly develop perfect balance and dexterity and leap in.
My Kitchen
Point: The Blue Faerie
Trying to stay inside and off the computer has pushed me to find other ways of entertaining myself. Not only have I made feta-cheese & pepper muffins, and almond & roasted tomato pasta, but I now know how to make banana bread. So I've got food and I'm getting smarter, while the fire elementals are probably thinking, "Oh Gods! It's learning!" Heh, heh, heh.

...They'll be able to rest easy again after this afternoon.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011


Cooking Adventure: Spicy Mango Soup
Source: Um... the Internet? I don't remember!
The Bellydance Soundtrack: Kindergarten (Rube Remix) by Unkle Ho
Prep Time: 10 min.
Cook Time: 20-25 min
In celebration of the ungodly heat around here, of the awesomeness of my immersion blender, and the excellent fit of my new bra stash, I whipped up some mango soup a few nights ago. And in addition to my undergarment shopping experience, it was all mine. This soup calls for a habaƱero pepper. I made the mistake of adding a half of one the first time I made this and it was to the point of inedible except for those native Texans who have lead-lined stomachs. This time around I was very satisfied with a 1/3 of a pepper, but my husband still can't take the heat. Pity. :)

On a complete segway, I'd like to give a shout out to all the lovely ladies who provided me with even more euphemisms for my knockers and their carriers. There should seriously be a contest for coming up with these. You guys rock!

"Boobie Baskets" - Danni from The Whimsical Cottage
"Mammer Jammers" - Dark Mother from Dark Mother Goddess
"My Wee Girls" - Dreaming of Jeanie from Lost in the Trailer Park
"Funbags" - Lilith Noor from Crumbs in the Costume Closet

 - 1/3 cup creamed coconut
 - 2 med. white onions
 - 3 Tbsp. butter
 - 1 Tbsp. olive oil
 - 2 ripe mangoes peeled and chopped
 - 3 cups low sodium chicken broth
 - 1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
 - 1 tsp. tamarind paste (If you can't find this, I just use Sriracha sauce or chili paste. Either work just as well.)
 - 1/3 habaƱero pepper (a whole one for native Texans)

1. Saute the onions and butter in oil until translucent in a medium saucepan.
2. Add the copped mango and cook for a few minutes until soft
3. Add the chicken stock, pepper & chili paste/Sriracha.
4. Stir, simmer and cover for 15min.
5. Remove from heat. Let cool if you are blending this in a blender. If you have an immersion blender go ahead and have at it! (Although make sure the blender is actually immersed. I didn't and got a bit of piping hot soup splatter.)
6. Blend until smooth.
7. Return the mixture to the saucepan and stir in the creamed coconut.
8. Serve & enjoy! You can use Sriracha and/or sour cream for a bit of extra taste.
**My cooking friend and I were curious what this would taste like with carrots or sweet potato added. Should anyone be feeling bold and willing to try this, let me know what it tastes like!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Help! They're Swarming my Boobs!

Allow me to start at the beginning.

I have two bras to my name. One is black and serves its purpose well by making me feel mysterious -and doubly so when I have a shirt on over it because no one else knows. The other is nude but is pointless because of slightly shiny stripes on it. For a good year the pointless stripes have kept me from wearing yellow or white shirts. Well, that is unless I want to creep out relatives in environments with bright lights ("Check it out grandma-in-law! My boobs are zebras!" I can't imagine that visit going over too well.). The addition of a white shirt to my clothes collection recently has finally caused me to see the light... and the stripes. I faced facts today and made myself go bra shopping. Alas, I took a dance colleague's advice and went to Victoria's Secret.

Now I'm not sure what the secret is. However, I am sure that whatever Victoria is hiding it involves some kind of rare, high-density plastic alloy that has been sewn into the lining of every product. It's the only way that I can think of to explain a bra costing $45. All I can say is that if I ever make bras, they'll be that much and will have speakers with headphone attachments sewn into the cups - leading to men yelling the phrase, "Yeah, baby! Turn up the base on them thangs!" I might also venture into bras that play different notes depending on which way you move. For the first time in history, having a good warm up and stretching routine would be key to music composition. 

Normally these highfalutin undergarments keep me away, but I got it in my head that maybe if I got a nice one and took care of it I wouldn't feel so bad about gutting my credit card. Almost as soon as I walked in a sales girl (Becky, or Brittany, or Barbie, or some perky name like that)* introduced herself and asked if I needed help, and proceeded to ask me if I would like to be fitted for a bra. As far as I know, bras exist to lift and hide nipples. ...I said, "Please". After sizing me up she sent me back to the fitting rooms to try on various types.

This was all fairly normal until I started coming out of the changing stall. The first time there were two sales ladies standing right there outside the door. "How'd they fit?" they asked with highly lipsticked grins on their faces and gleams of hope in their eyes. I went in for a second try after it was fairly obvious that BeckyBrittanyBarbie needed lessons with a tape measure. I opened the door to find another sales drone had joined the group to stare me down as I opened the stall, "Yes?" I was getting the feeling that these ladies wanted me to sell me something before their eyeballs popped out of their sockets. To speed things up, I just feigned interest in one of the styles and was quickly whisked to the sales rack (Heh, heh. Rack.) and encouraged to find some boob coverage.

By this point I was really ready to walk out of there. Still, I thought that maybe I had better just try one more on. I grabbed up a nude bra and stubbornly made my way back to the fitting rooms where the horde was waiting for me. No problem. The second you get into the stall, you're safe. Well, that was until I came out again. Four. Four Victoria zombies all staring at me in the face - the way a goat or a chipmunk might look at you like, "Food?"

"How was it!?" "How was the bra!?" "Did you like it!?"
"Um, it was okay."
Silence. Expressions of confusion. Their gaze slowly shifted between my face and my chest. They were making moves to suggest more bras. I bolted.

I speed-walked out of there while trying to decide whether the severing-the-head or the destroying-the-brain technique would work best. BeckyBrittanyBarbie tried to catch my attention with the same ecstatic expression, "Oh my god! Did you find one? Which one did you like!?" But I was ready for her. I whipped out my machete from my belt and with a vengeful scream - "Die you lacy, push-up bitch from hell!" - I took a swing at her neck. The Becky-zombie's head went flying and coagulated blood splattered against the walls and against the display windows. Soon other customers in the store were finding their own courage - ladies everywhere doing the Xena yell and taking down the swarms of the bubbly blond undead with broadswords, battle axes, and nail clippers (The airplanes say those things can kill, and they're right, you know.).

Soon the mall janitors arrived to clean away the zombie gore. Wiping the sweat from my brow. I wearily trudged to JcPenney - a store which has no secrets and no undead, but does have half-off sales and a final price tag of $48 for three bras. Sweet.

*I've actually had two friends named Beckie and Brittany. Neither were blond or extremely perky. In short, if your name is Becky, Brittany or Barbie, no offense meant. You are not a member of the undead. If your name is BeckyBrittanyBarbie, still no offense because your head is already missing.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Fishing for Opinions

What do you guys think? His name is Wynster - after the rune Wynn meaning balance and harmony. There was a bit more of that after I finished him than while I was working on constructing him. The pattern actually took up four pages of scribble before I got it down right. And even now I'm making a smaller version and testing my own math on the stitch counts.

I'd really like to use Wynster as my first step into Etsy pattern selling. What do you think? Is he Etsy-pattern worthy? :)