Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Looking Forward to February

I think I've figured it out. January is a dragging month. If NASA ran out of money they'd start using it as a parachute to slow down the space shuttle landings. Cross dressers might come out in full force this month. Guys at their height in the 90's should start saying, "Woah. What a January, duuuuude." I suppose the problem is partially that cold I talked about, but partially the social call to jump back into action with amazing fervor after the holidays. I'm not ready to be there yet. I illustrated that point this morning when I woke up before 7AM for the first time in months. Apparently the sleep I get between 6:45AM and 7AM really does make the difference between a driving to work singing morning and a I-swear-to-every-demonic-Hindu-god-that-I-will-voodoo-whomsoever-dares-anger-me morning.

Despite the drag though, there is something to look forward to: dancing half-naked in front of hundreds of impressionable college guys. Oh how their stoned and confused faces will become more so when they go by the bellydancing club table at the student organization fair tomorrow. Last year our table was right across from the Anime Club, Jew-wop (A Jewish doo-wop... duwop? club), and the Madison Mechanical Engineering Society. I think their schpeils went downhill when my dancer friend and I faced each other and started practicing chest lifts and shoulder shimmies. Tomorrow will also be the first practice for the beginner's show group, so I'll get two chances to be a complete goof with a coin scarf.

Bellydancing craziness aside, there is another very fun time to look forward to...

February Chocolate Month!
Yes, February will be the official month of splurging here at DwaSW. I've accumulated enough  excellent chocolate recipes that it's time to showcase them in all their delicious glory. Keep your eye out for the recipes, movie reviews, magickal tidbits, dance lessons, and of course, giveaways! If you're curious about what could be coming up, I suggest taking a visit to Heathen's Hobbies for a preview. 

*P.S. I'm still looking for a few prizes to add to contests. If you have a budding artistic side and would like a chance to show off, I'd love to hear from you and check out your crafts!

Monday, January 17, 2011

A Wisconsinite Embraces the Element of Fire

It is snowing buckets outside and I have once again joined the hamsters in mock hibernation. And I have to say that I envy the little guys being as bundled up as they are in their cage. Were my body equipped with expandable cheek pouches, I might also scour the apartment for nesting material. I can see the surprised look on my husband's face now as he would slosh in the door from work to find me buried several layers deep in a fibrous castle three times my size. He would dig through the sheets only to find me munching on the pizza I had ferreted away somewhere near the tumor of pillows and stuffed animals.

I'm not exactly sure what it is about Wisconsin winters that allows me to speak so carefree about them during the off-season. Perhaps it's some type of temporary memory loss attributable to the warm summer sun that causes my head to swell and my mouth to spread into a grin in the face of  snow  fearing southerners. Well folks, that grin has hardened into the firm and determined stare of a human trying desperately to survive the colder and typically less colorful months (The gray background on the photo collage above? That was the sky today.). 

Most of December was spent pacing the edges of the apartment, hunched over and rubbing my shoulders. I also may have depleted the water supply of the Eastern dolomite aquifer with the amount of "necessary" bubble baths I've taken over the past two weeks. In addition, I've had to make the choice between cold, and warming my feet in slippers that so desperately need to be replaced that the worn insides give my feet a nice pickled beet and wet dog scent. ...It's been smelly around the apartment lately. All of these strategies have been put into place because the fire element is literally a hot commodity around here. Mostly so for the electric company, who likes to find out just how much we love our internal body temperatures by doubling our December bill.

This, mixed with my stubborn conviction to get healthy, has driven me to the gym at least four days of the week. It gives me the chance to not only lose weight, but also to trudge back into the snow after a half hour workout and stick it to Hades for kidnapping Persephone and leaving us in this mess in the first place. With my warm core firmly established in my jacket, I can trod home in a storm and think, "My, what a pleasant evening it is."

So many times we think of elements in their purest forms. Sometimes people to whom I try explaining Wicca are under the impression that I bow down to a candle flame (Only if there's a power outage.). But elements are so much more malleable than that. Fire is an excellent element to work with when you're exercising because of the warmth we feel as our muscles work and our bodies burn fuel.  It's the element of change that allows us to sculpt and train our bodies. Below is a fire visualization I've been using to help me find my flexible side. Here's wishing a warm winter to all of you.

Flexibility Fire Visualization
Get into the starting position for your stretch. Close your eyes and picture yourself floating in a pool of fire. It warms your body, loosens all your muscles, and draws you into a focused calm. Take a slow, deep breath in through your nose. As you do, feel your legs, spine and torso elongate. Feel the fire helping you along. As you breath slowly out through your nose, go a bit deeper into the stretch. Repeat this several times until you can't go any further without feeling uncomfortable. Take a deep breath in and come back to a sitting/standing position.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

My First Set of Writer's Blocks

Yes, dear minions. Dancers and crafters. Witches and kitchen adventurers. My lack of posting has been to a complete attack of writer's block mixed with two solid weeks of same-old-same-old. I tried the blog prompt thing. I tried checking out other pages for ideas. I tried looking through old photos and videos... and found this.

The Explanation Before you Watch
I had just spent the wee hours of the night with my two best friends in the world at the theater and Perkins. Having exhausted ourselves on the Wolverine movie, late night shakes, and several rounds of Munchkin, we decided to reconvene at my friend Katey's house. I hitched a ride with her, but before doing so made sure to grab my camera out of Jim's car. I was, how you say, convinced "he'd mess with my camera and take a video of himself driving." Highly unsafe, and there was no way I was letting him mess with my camera. This, of course, led to Katey and I putting the camera on her dashboard to record our own driving adventures.

For the record, we were both completely, out of our minds, stone cold sober. 

video

In the meantime, should anyone have some good, bad, and/or random questions to ask... I'd really appreciate it! :) ...:P... I don't know how to make a little pleading face.

...{:) Nope. Unibrow.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Making Mud and Magick

Cooking Adventure: Red Lentils & Rice
Source: Moosewood Restaurant Celebrates by The Moosewood Collective
The Bellydance Soundtrack: Habibi Ya Eini by Bellydance Superstars
Prep Time: 20 min.
Cook Time: 25 min.

Last weekend I did a major overhaul of the kitchen cabinets to find that I have quite the monopoly on non-perishable food items. In addition, I also shopped at what my husband and I have deemed, "The Fancy Grocery Store" last week and am now determined to cut down on food costs so I can spend more on food... Yeah, it all makes sense in some twisted culinary way.

I've come to realize that a large part of practical cooking is making food last. Taste can be an amazing thing but it can get, as the Minnesotans say, spendy don't ya know? And when there are no leftovers to take to work for lunch, I tend to spend way more money and imbue my body with many more calories than are necessary. So a trip to the library, a handful of books, a bag of carrots, a red bell pepper, and one day later I found myself mixing up a good batch of dahl for the coming busy days.

In addition to all of this, I've recently picked up the book The Golden Bough by James George Frazer. Apparently this 1922 study in comparative religions had quite the profound affect on Aleister Crowley's & Scott Cunningham's ritual writings - not to mention some bit of influence on Terry Pratchet's creation of Disc World. I haven't gotten to far in, but I have reached his attempt to categorize various types of magic. According to Frazer, Sympathetic Magic is any type of spell/ritual/superstition in which an object represents the need of the magician (his example is of an Indian doctor using the sun's yellow color to draw out jaundice from a patient). 

I thought about this for a while and decided that lentils must be used for fertility, because, like good soil, they soak up water and retain it. After rinsing a cup & a half of lentils, you actually end up getting 2 cups of lentils. Alas, the dahl, once cooked, comes out resembling a very tasty mud. Hmm... mud-looking, retains water... Yup. Beans are for earth and fertility. They could also represent impending gas... I'm sticking with the earth/fertility representation.

Ingredients
1 cup chopped onions
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 Tbsp. chopped garlic
1 Tbsp. peeled, grated fresh ginger root
1 Tbsp. freshly grated lemon peel
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper or 1 small seeded and minced jalapeno
1 cup peeled and chopped carrots
1 cup chopped red bell pepper
1 1/2 cups red lentils, rinsed and drained
2 cups water
1 1/2 tsp. salt, or to taste
6 lemon wedges
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro, more to taste


Directions
1. In a large heavy soup pot, saute the onions in the oil for about 10 minutes over medium heat, until soft and translucent. (*I really don't know why it says ten minutes. It only takes about 3-5 minutes to saute onions. Use your best judgement. If they look cooked, they're cooked.)
2. Add the garlic, ginger root, lemon peel, cinnamon, and cayenne or jalapeno. Cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring constantly, and adding a little water if needed to prevent sticking.
3. Add the carrots and cook for 3-4 minutes, until tender.
4. Stir in the peppers and cook for about 2 minutes.
5. Add the lentils, water, and salt; cover and bring to a boil - this will happen quickly so stay close to the pot. Reduce the heat to low and simmer 15-20 minutes, until the lentils are soft.
6. Serve the lentils over the saffron rice with lemon wedges & cilantro.

*I just made the lentils so I could have the supply in the fridge. For a quick addition and dinner, put 1 1/2 cups of basmati rice, 2 3/4 cups of water, a pinch of saffron & 1/2 tsp. salt in a medium saucepan. Bring it to a boil, cover, remove from the heat & let it sit until the water has been absorbed. Ta da! Easy dinner!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Consumed by Resolutions

 
Only six days into the new year and I feel as though I'm just barely managing to pull myself up out of resolution fever. I really only made one resolution this year that I can't tell you. Maybe it's me being stubborn, but mostly it's my deep seeded belief that new year's resolutions are also bound by birthday wishing rules: If you tell it, it's not going to come true. Hm, kind of makes me wish new year's always came with candles. Suffice it to say, the goal for 2011 revolves around personal health - which is as unique a subject for a new year's resolution as methods of deep frying things are to a Minnesota State Fair food vendor.

This, mixed with my small goals of reading and sleeping more, has meant that I can sufficiently blame my lack of posting on a stubborn attempt to make the year perfect - a business model that is definitely not sustainable over the long haul. It doesn't mean I can't try, though. 

In the midst of this overhaul of the day-to-day is an overwhelming drive to crochet my own patterns. I was so happy with how Dag turned out, that I tried making him again. ...Turns out I didn't take very good notes. I managed to struggle through Dag #2, and am now working on a second pattern for another monster. Perhaps at some point these will be up on an Etsy site. For now though, I'm still trying to stay afloat in my own promises

Anyone else in the "improving your health" boat? Oh my gosh, have you ever had a point in your life where you've wanted a pizza dipped in chocolate so badly!? ...No counting pregnancy! :P

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Um...




 How did I DO that!? Awesome! His name is Dag, after the rune "dagaz" - the rune of opposites and paradoxes. The paradox? The fact that I got all this work done in two days, yet all that work was done sitting on my butt. :P

Happy New Year!