Earth Hour Spell Friday, Mar 27 2009 

Earth Hour Spell By Steph and Iris

This Saturday evening (March 28th) is Earth Hour, when people all over the world will be turning off their lights and electric devices for one hour, from 8:30 to 9:30 pm, local time.  I thought that while we’re all lighting candles to see, we could be making magic to spread the concept of less consumption and ecological mindfulness!  So I grabbed my friend Iris from the Sacred Well, and we got to scheming! Let’s see how many people we can get working magic for the Earth at the same time! For more info on Earth Hour, see http://www.earthhour.org/home/

You will need:
one green candle
Sacred Well Earth Oil, or your favorite earthy scent, like oakmoss or vetiver. Love oil or Protection oil would work as well.
one small fluorite stone, or clear quartz crystal point

Step One: Turn off all lights and non-necessary electronics – it’s Earth Hour, that’s the whole idea!  Light some candles to see by. If you’re like me and have some helpers, you’ll also want to make sure that they’re out of the way of cats and their fluffy tails.

Step Two: Using a knife or a nail, carve the words “I love Mother Earth” or “Nature is our Mother” or “gratitude” or “conservation” or whatever inspires you.

Step Three: Bless your candle and your stone with your Earth oil.  If you like, bless yourself as well!

Step Four: Light your green candle.

Step Five: Charge your stone in the light of the candle by repeating “What we do to the Earth, we do to ourselves. I live in balance with the Earth.” 3 times or more.  Picture the stone “broadcasting” the message of mindfulness to everyone in your community and to our world leaders.

Put your candle in a safe place, and let it burn down.  Carry your stone with you, or keep it on your altar.  This spell is also great for Earth Day, April 22.  Why not do it twice?

Blessed Be!

Cupcakes, cupcakes everywhere! Monday, Mar 23 2009 

Amazingly enough, the Great Cupcake Caper of Ostara ’09 went off very smoothly. Just in the nick of time, but everything was baked, frosted, transported and consumed. I didn’t get to try them all, but I did try to collect opinions! So…what did I make?

Lemon Honey Cupcakes

Lemon honey cupcakes

These turned out pretty well. The cake was a little dry, but the frosting was a big hit! I didn’t think the honey flavor was strong enough–there are a few honey cake recipes out there that I think I’d like to adapt to cupcake form, and top with some sort of glaze for as stronger flavor.

Lemon Rosemary

Lemon rosemary cupcakes

These were my least favorite. I loved the idea, but not the execution. Partially my fault–the rosemary wasn’t chopped fine enough (I need better kitchen tools) but they were also disappointingly dry. I think I’m going to tinker around with adding more oil, or possibly soaking the cornmeal to ease the grittiness.

Coconut Key Lime

Coconut key lime vegan cupcakes

I didn’t try these, but I heard good things. I did try the frosting–very good. But next time I hope that I can find key lime juice, because squeezing the little buggers was awful. Note to self: get citrus juicer. Really, though, how can you go wrong with coconut and key lime?

Apricot Almond

Apricot Almond vegan cupcakes

One word: sticky! But delicous. I liked these, and everyone else seemed to as well. Though in the future, I might go to the extra work of filling them afterwards, instead of baking the jam in. Because I’m that obsessed with things looking pretty.

Pistachio Rosewater

Rosewater pistachio vegan cupcakes

These smelled divine when you ate them. These are definitely on the make-again list. So delicate and fragrant, and I felt so pampered, eating something that smelled deliciously of roses. These would be great for a wedding or bridal shower, I think. Very romantic and girly.

Chai Latte

Chai latte vegan cupcakes

I have to say, these were my favorite. I’m not a huge frosting fan, so dusted with powdered sugar was perfect. I think I’ll actually be making some for breakfast–they’re almost muffin-y. And they made my apartment smell amazing while they were baking. Definitely a recipe to  hang on to!

The most amazing thing about this was that I’m not totally sick of baking! I do need to clean my kitchen up a bit more before I do any more, but this was not as hard as it sounds. Most of the recipes were super  quick to make, and once I get organized, it will only get easier. Though if I agree to make quite this many again, I think I’ll enlist helpers…

You put the lime in the coconut… Friday, Mar 20 2009 

The Great Cupcake Caper of Ostara ’09 has officially commenced. Last night I began the actual baking.

The Great Cupcake Caper of Ostara '09 Day 1

These are coconut lime vegan cupcakes (on the left) and apricot almond vegan cupcakes (on the right). The coconut ones will be iced and topped with coconut later, and the almond ones will be glazed.

I’m being good, and not taste-testing, but the batter was delicious for both! My only disappointment is that the coconut ones didn’t rise as much as I’d hoped–I can’t tell if that’s because they are vegan, or because my baking powder is kind of old. Probably the baking powder.

So far, I’m right on schedule–so onward I go!

Tarot Card of the Day: Six of Pentacles

The Great Cupcake Caper of Ostara ’09 Tuesday, Mar 17 2009 

Last night, in what may prove to be a fit of insanity, I may have agreed to make 5 dozen cupcakes. Then, because 5 dozen didn’t seem like enough, and wasn’t a nice even number, I decided that 6 dozen would be a far better choice.

Oh, and I’ll need to have them all done by Saturday.

After I hyperventilated for a few minutes, I pulled out my laptop and cookbooks and got to work. Because I have a plan, a plan to successfuly pull of what I have dubbed the Great Cupcake Caper of Ostara ’09.

First step was to plan a list of cupcakes. Because Ostara is all about spring, I’ve decided on the following:

Apricot Almond Cupcakes (from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World)
Coconut Lime Cupcakes (from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World)
Rosewater Pistachio Cupcakes (from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World)
Chai Tea Cupcakes (from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World)
Lemon Honey Cupcakes
Lemon Rosemary Cupcakes

They all sound very spring-y and delicious, and I’m super excited to get to try  my hand at them. I’m especially intrigued by the lemon rosemary and rosewater pistachio varieties.

My plan to get this done is as follows:

Tuesday (today!)–head to the grocery store to buy most of my supplies, clean up my kitchen, wash dishes.
Wednesday–Craft Night at the Sacred Well where I’ll pick up another carrier to transport them, stop at Whole Foods for fancy ingredients, make sure all recipes are gathered
Thursday–bake apricot almond and coconut lime cupcakes
Friday–bake rosewater pistachio and honey lemon cupcakes
Saturday–bake chai tea and lemon rosemary cupcakes, make icing and ice all cupcakes that have icing or glaze, pack them all up for transport

When I write it all down it seems doable, but I know that might deceiving! I’m thinking the key is going to involve cleaning as I go, and making sure I do a good mise en place for each batch.

Wish me luck!

Tarot Card of the Day: Knight of Wands

More secrets..ssshhh! Monday, Mar 16 2009 

I’ve mainly been working on another secret knitting project, so no pictures that might give it away! I will say that both secret projects are pretty quick and fun–always a plus.

On the down side, I don’t think that I’m going to finish my Ostara socks by Ostara. To be honest, I’m not that upset. I really had a hard time finding a pattern, and still wound up not being thrilled with the one I chose. I am, however, reaching the end of my Noro socks; while not complicated, they feature some very spring-y colors so I think perhaps they are meant to be my Ostara socks instead.

Other than that, I’ve been embarking on some spring cleaning. This time I will not stop halfway through! So, if you have any good thoughts to spare, please send them my way–combating clutter has been my (losing) battle for years, but this year I’ve vowed to finally win.

Tarot Card of the Day: Five of Cups

Crafts to soothe the soul Wednesday, Mar 11 2009 

It’s been kind of a trying week so far. (Yes, I know it’s only Wednesday. I’m trying very hard not to think about that.) So, I needed something that I could work on to calm me down. Something quick, something satisfying.

Finally, I dug out an idea I’d been meaning to work on for a while. One thing about me is that I have some Type A tendencies that mean I’m very, very picky about my calendars and to do lists. I get so frustrated at what’s available in stores that I thought I might try my hand at making my own.

Notebook

I started with my To Do List notebook. I used decorative paper and file folders to make the front and back cover and dividers

To Do ListsI

It has a To Do list section, because I believe that lists are much more satisfying when you can cross things out in pen. Computers just don’t have that same feel.

Notes section

I also added a notes section, since I usually take my notebook to meetings.

Ring binding

The whole thing is held together with rings–unlike a spiral notebook or binder, it can lay fairly flat, but I can also add or remove pages as necessary. (I am a compulsive saver.)

Vintage style notebook

I can almost imagine myself, sitting at my desk in an adorable cottage and sipping my tea while writing my list calmly while getting ready for the day. Since I’m actually taking this into work, that image really couldn’t be farther from the truth, but you know what? I’ll take what I can get.

Tarot Card of the Day: Princess of Wands

Back on Track (kind of) Tuesday, Mar 10 2009 

I spent most of this past weekened sleeping off my third headache of the week. I guess that’s nature’s way of telling me I needed to take a break.

I did get some spare time to start tackling all my disasters; the cross stitch is fixed, and the Ostara sock is ripped back to a point where I can actually work on it again. Snow White is still in time out, though, while I gather my strength to tackle that.

I also started (yet another) project! This one has a deadline, though, and is a small quick knit. But it’s also a surprise, so I can’t show it to you. But I can give you a hint:

Surprise yarn

It’s going amazingly fast, and I can’t wait to be able to post about it.

Tarot Card of the Day: The Tower

I give up Friday, Mar 6 2009 

This week has been nothing but crafty fail.

We already discussed what happened with Snow White, so let’s just leave that one for now.

Last night, too depressed to knit on my sweater, I decided to do some cross stitch. And I stitched away, happily, as I watched my recording of Lost.

Then I saw it. What I had thought was white thread was actually very light pearl grey. And in this pattern, it makes a difference.

Rip. Rip. Rip.

Then, I started over. Lost episode number 2, re-airing on Sci-Fi.  With white. I triple checked. In different light. Stitch, stitch, stitch. Time to move on to green thread–wait, what’s this? All my white stitches are one square off?

Rip some more.

After that, I gave up and went to sleep. This morning, I decided to try again, and picked up my Ostara socks. Picked up stitches for the gusset, knit across the top of the foot, picked up more stitches and–wait, what’s this? Half of the turned heel has been dropped? I can’t figure out how to recover it without ripping back?

Clearly, I am not meant to accomplish anything this week. I cave, universe. I give up. You’ve beaten me. I will watch TV like a mindless idiot, just like everyone else.

At least until tomorrow.

Tarot Card of the Day: The World (ha!)

Have some apple, my dear Thursday, Mar 5 2009 

Snow White is in a time out.

It’s for her own good, really. And mine.

Yesterday, I took her to my weekly knitting group at lunch. A group of us sit in the cafe at work and knit once a week–sometimes I’m too busy, but it’s a nice stress reliever midweek, and it guarantees me at least one day of eating lunch away from my desk.

So I knit along, working on the decreases.

Then, I notoiced something. Something bad.

My stitch counts were off. And not just off like, you decreased one too many times off. Off like, you have far too many stitches outside the markers and too few inside them.

I don’t know how this happened. And right now? I don’t care.

I’m putting Snow White to the side. I have my socks, and my cross stitch. Someday, when I’m actually alert, and have a couple of bottles of wine my resolve back, I’ll figure out what the heck is going on here.

In the meantime? Time out for Snow White.

Tarot Card of the Day: Ten of Wands

Musings on Death Monday, Mar 2 2009 

In addition to my daily one-card Tarot reading, which is blogge here and on Twitter, I also do a weekly reading for the week ahead. It’s a simple, six-card reading that looks at various aspects of life. This week, for the “works” card, I drew Death.

And promptly freaked out.

Now, I know that Death does not mean death. It usually means change, but in this economy, that’s scary enough all on it’s own. Never mind that my outcome card was The Moon, and that my message from the Universe card was the Ten of Cups. Both good cards–well, okay, The Moon can be tricky, but I like to think that she and I are on fairly good terms. Hello, it’s Death.

After I talked myself down, I started to think and meditate on Death, and on change. For someone who makes major decisions based on gut-feeling (I’m switching schools! I’m moving cross-country!) I really don’t like change. I like comfort. I don’t like to move around a lot, or deal with new environments (one of the reasons I don’t have roommates), and I like routine. But what kind of change does Death bring?

It’s not change like The Tower. It’s not that sudden crumbling of the foundations of your life and beliefs. It’s not the Wheel of Fortune, either. The Wheel is change, but it’s that slower, inexorable change that is shaped by your own decisions.

Then it became clear. Death isn’t about the reaper coming for you; it’s about you becoming the reaper. Death is the opportunity to make the changes you need to make in your own life and personality. To put an end to the things that aren’t working. I’ve been thinking a lot about Ostara in the past few days, and planting metaphors have cropped up (ha! cropped!) so I’ m going to further belabor that symbolism and say that death is like weeding. If you have a garden, you have to weed it (or so I hear, I don’t actually have a garden). If you don’t, the weeds take over and choke out the flowers.

Death is like that. What  do I need to cut out before it chokes me off? Insecurity? Fear? Doubt? Deeply ingrained desires to fade into the background? That’s what Death is asking–what am I going to reap?

Tarot Card of the Day: Ace of Pentacles

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