Monday, January 31, 2011


Blessings, Darlings!

It's January 31, and more 'winter weather' is expected. Well, duh - ANY weather we get now is 'winter weather' by definition.  It's bloody winter!

Okay, this time it might be an ice storm.  Which, like the heavy wet snow we got last week, means trees taking down power lines.

Are YOU ready for electricity-free days? 

What alternative heat sources do you have? Are they SAFE heat sources? Every year there are news stories about people heating their houses using charcoal or whatever and dying from carbon monoxide poisoning. Don't be one of them! 

If shopping is impossible - either because the store has no power so isn't open, or the streets are impassable, how long can you get by with what you have on hand?  How will you cook it without power? If you have a gas stove (and I wish I did!) can you light it safely yourself without its electric starter doing it?

If you're on city water and have no heat - do you know how to keep your pipes from freezing?

WHEN - not IF - weather hits and expected services fail, all the ranting and finger pointing at government and utility companies in the world WILL NOT KEEP YOU SAFE, WARM, AND FED.  Your preparations will do that.  If you expect to be taken care of by others, it seems odd to me that you don't figure that the others - the utility company - doesn't expect to be 'taken care of nicely' by weather, etc.  They are no more prepared than you are.  They are less prepared than I am.

Frondly, Fern

Saturday, January 29, 2011

You Say You Want a Revolution

Blessings, Darlings!

When it comes to divination/astrology/etc - I suck.  One major hit in 25 years of practice, everything else noise/random.

But there are others out there who say they are good at it.  LET THEM COME FORTH!

I want to know what they think is going to happen in 'the Middle East' - which I am extending to include Algeria to the West and Iran to the east.  Revolution is afoot in Egypt and Tunisia already, the govt of Lebanon has fallen.  Will the Islamic Brotherhood, supported by only about 30% of the country but has at least some infrastructure in place, form a new government in Egypt?  Will other middle eastern government fall? Will the US get more blame - the protesters in Egypt have noted where the tear gas used against them has come from, and the US has supported their dictator for decades. 

What will all this do to oil prices, and thus to worldwide food supplies?  If food supplies are affected, what other governments will fall?

What say you, Astrologers, Psychics, Tarot Readers, etc?

Frondly, the very worried Fern

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Hunker Down

Blessings, Darlings!

We got 9.5 inches of snow yesterday.  The Washington DC area we used to live in got a bit less (more rain there).  Judging by the TV, the only news in the world is the snow we got here.  Never mind the revolution that seems to be going on in Egypt, the issues in Tunisia and Yemen, etc.

Anyway.... the news is full of stories about folks who were stranded in their cars for 4 to 12 hours trying to get home.  My son watched, then admitted he was thinking about what HE would do.  We again discussed the time I was working at Credit Counseling when snow hit and roads turned extremely icy.  I watched skidding and accidents from my window, watched the streets clog, etc. When it was finally time to leave ... I didn't.  I stayed put.  I stayed in the office, had a cup of tea, read the book or magazine I always had with me.  I was warm, dry, comfortable, not doing white-knuckled ice driving.

By 8 pm, the roads had finally been salted, the built-up traffic had evaporated from the direction I was going to go, and I headed out.  I drove slowly, an it took me a few extra minutes to make the drive.  But it was a pretty calm drive, aside from not being able to see lane lines in one area.

Being able to shelter in place - no matter where you are - is a necessity.  As my experience, and the experience of the poor folks who were stuck on highways yesterday, shows.  Going out into weather or other SHTF (Shit Hits The Fan) situations is usually NOT a good idea.  Wait it out THEN go out.

To do this you need some level of supplies with you.  In this case, they were in my desk at my office: tea bag, book, snacks, cell phone, water, etc.  I also had a candle and matches so I'd have been okay  had power gone out.  I knew the gas tank in my car was full, my tires were good, and I had more emergency supplies (more food, more water, tools, blanket, etc) in the car.  Had I been stranded in the car overnight, I'd have been okay, even if I had to use the 'can with a lid' potty - tho' in that last case I'd have whined a heck of a lot!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Inching to Independence

Blessings, Darlings!

The extremes in weather this winter have me looking at greater food independence again.

As many of you know, severe freezes hit Florida, making the price of winter strawberries soar.  Which I don't really care about, to tell the truth - I prefer local ones in season.  Yes, orange juice for the Chubby Hubby has risen a bit in price, but not a lot. 

What IS  having an effect on me is the rise in price of my staple veggies.  Cabbages were apparently hit hard by the freezes, and have started rising in price.  We eat a LOT of cabbage here - it's usually inexpensive and very nutrient-dense.  And carrots have risen in price rather a lot as well, with a 5 pound bag now going for almost $4 instead of the usual $2.00 - $2.50.

As a result, I've really kicked up my sprouting seeds for current eating. I'm prouting lots of mung beans for stir fries one to two times a week, and wheat for extending salads.    I've written about both of those before.

What I'm also doing in kicking up the amount of veggies I've started for 'garden' purposes, seeds I'm starting in actual soil.  Every week I'm starting 6 onions (from a bag of pearl onions I bought at the grocer, since the garden centers don't have onion sets yet) to use for green onions/scallions.  I've got lettuce started which is sprouted.  Seeds have been started for turnips, for red onions, for parsley, for spinach. 

In the next few days I'll start my own cabbages, more herbs, etc.

All high-nutrition foods, helping me gain independence in veggies. 

Not in calories, not in fats, not in proteins, not in carbohydrates.

But I have to start SOMEWHERE, and it is bloody cold JANUARY.

Frondly, Fern

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Scotch Broth

Blessings, Darlings!

Today's foodie post is on Scotch Broth.  Which, while I guess back in the day WAS a broth, I serve as a soup with all the ingredients chopped and in it, rather than separated out as, well, Wikipedia says it had been served.  They also say folks peeled boiled potatoes before eating them, and that MUST be wrong.  Peasants like me don't throw potato peels out, they eat them!

But I digress....

Scotch broth is, fundamentally, "vegetable barley soup with lamb or mutton".  It's really flexible when it comes to amounts of all ingredients.  Being cheap, obviously I tend to use more veggies and barley than meat! Actually, I guess my Scotch  Broth is "pasties with lots of broth and no crust"!

Lamb is the meat I use - in part because I've never run into mutton where I've lived, and I have no idea if it's more or less expensive than lamb would be.  The lamb I'm using in today's batch is leftover from the leg of lamb I served last week.  I bought the leg of lamb (semi-boneless) just after Christmas, on its 'sell-by'date, so it was marked down in price.  I have about 2 cups of diced left over lamb.

The bone from the lamb is simmering in a quart of water, giving the last of its flavor up.  I'll add some chicken and beef bouillion cubes to the proto-broth to improve the flavor.  Equal parts of beef and chicken broth taste kinda sorta like veal broth, so they say.  I also use that mix as a lamb broth substitution.  The soup will need more liquid, and more cubes, by the time it's done.

Also simmering in bouillion is a cup of pearled barley.  Not my favorite kind of barley, but it's the most available barley. 

Soon I'll be cutting veggies.  Root veggies, mostly.  Carrots, onions, turnips (if I had any in the house, I'm out), potatoes since I don't have turnips, celery, some leftover green beans and mushrooms from the fridge, etc.  I'll add about 4 cups of them, since I'm using 2 cups of meat. If I had some butter beans/lima beans, I'd add some of them, too.

Bone will come out of the broth. Veggies will go in, and simmer until tender. Meat will be added. Barley will be added.  More beef/chicken bouillion will be added .... both for making it a soup-not-stew today and because the barley WILL absorb an incredible amount of liquid even after it's totally cooked.  That's because of all the soluble fiber in it, BTW.

I'll end up with about a gallon of soup.  Which is roughly 12 adult  meal-sized servings.

I'm ready for it NOW.

Frondly, Fern

Monday, January 24, 2011

Winter is Cold

Blessings, Darlings!

It's January.  It is Winter.  It is COLD OUT. 

The last two nights the temperature has dropped to 12 degrees F.  Certainly colder than THIS witch's tits! 

Since I only run the heat a few hours morning and evening to conserve energy and resources (including money!), the house can get a bit ... nippy. Even when the heat is on, I keep the thermostats no warmer than 66 degrees.  I have taken to wearing my 'lighter' winter coat in the house, and am actually wearing shoes.  Hot flashes are now welcome.

How are things in your neck of the woods?

Frondly, Fern

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Busy Kitchen!

Blessings, Darlings!

I'm busy in the kitchen today, making soup and bread and probably cookies or cake.

HOWEVER - I'm changing the day I post foodie stuff to Tuesday, since everyone seems to be too busy on Mondays to read anything.  Not sure what I'll post on Monday, of course. 

Frondly, Fern

Friday, January 21, 2011

Soft Tissue Injuries ATSHTF

Blessings, Darlings!

Given my on-going knee problems (tore my medial meniscus last spring), I've been contemplating these types of  injuries in an ATSHTF (after the shit hits the fan) situation.  While I can't afford surgery to repair this, at least I know what it is and have physical therapy exercises that usually keep the knee functional.

But with the increased physical effort needed to survive ATSHTF, these types of injuries will be more common and treatments more limited.  Broken bones can be set. Wounds can be sutured. Disease has avoidance and treatment parameters.

But, torn ligaments, torn cartilage, torn rotator cuffs, arthritis - we're going to have to deal with the pain and limited movement and go on with life.  Even access to list of physical therapy exercises will be limited, since without MRIs/X-rays/cat scans our ability to accurately diagnose the problem will be limited, and surgical correction will be right out.

Has anyone our there addressed these issues?  I've not found anything about them yet.

Frondly, Fern

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Religious Music

Blessings, Darlings!

It's Wednesday as I type this, and Star Foster who runs the Pagan Portal at is listening to Old Time Gospel music.

I didn't grow up on Gospel Music, but even I have the group she's listening to now, Sweet Honey in the Rock, on my play list.

Which got me to thinking.....

There have been occasional complaints from pagan parents about the chorus' their children are in singing Christian religious music.  My response has always been, "Was it GOOD music, or LOUSY music?" Because for me, quality of the music is what matters.

We are a family that LOVES choral music.  And many other types of music (Chubby Hubby was a music major for a while, AFTER he got his first degree in Physics).

Back before we started homeschooling, the Spawn was in the school choir in his public school.  The choir leader, Ms. Braswell, was EXCELLENT.  She picked great music, she got the children to give great performances that you would think were beyond their years.

What glorious Latin Glorias they sang! What rafter-lifting Gospel they ended with!  I'd be one of the only non-performers who would go to their school-day competitions against the other schools in the district.  The other schools performances were nice .... ours always won.

Yes, virtually all of the music Ms. Braswell chose was 'Christian Religious Music'.  That wasn't important to me, what DID matter was that the Spawn was singing EXCELLENT music, beautifully arranged.  In fact, I suggested that in future years she might add Bach's "Safely My Sheep Do Graze", one of my favorite pieces, and TOTALLY Christian.

Quality.  It matters.

Frondly, Fern

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Weekly Witchery

Blessings, Darlings!

It's been a quiet week here, thank the God/dess/es.  The ice storm we were due to get turned out to be just a lovely glazing over snow, for one thing.  But I did get some things done.

I'm on the team creating the Full Moon ritual for the coven.  Due to the car's issues, I couldn't make the planning meeting in person, but conference calling is a good thing.  The ritual writing went better than I think any of us had hoped it would.  But, boy, deciding on chants isn't easy.  Had to change that a few times!

I'm still doing daily morning meditation, and daily work with the Healing Cauldron.

Did a comment or two over at Patheos.

I THINK I helped a bullying issue online, both with providing some magical advice/spellcraft and doing a little secret ninja/skiptracing mundane stuff.

Oh, and made progress in figuring out what to make out of bones - listening to both online friends and the voices in my head on that one!  Be afraid.....

How was your week?

Frondly, Fern

Tuesday, January 18, 2011


Blessings, Darlings!

Chickens were on sale this week, whole ones, for a change.  So I stocked up.

This first one is providing 3 meals for the family, which is great.  Baked, then chicken pot pie, then chicken and dumplings.

The next 4, well, that's different.  The Spawn is going to get deep hands-on experience at assembly line cutting, battering, and frying them.  At Popeyes, he worked the serving, not cooking, end of the business.  Here he's watched but never gotten club hand from repeated dippings in egg wash and flour yet.  He's gonna get his rather gooey baptism!

Then all but that night's dinner chicken will get put in trays to freeze in individual pieces, then all will be bagged and labeled and tucked into the freezer to supply meals for the next 8 weeks.

I love it when a plan comes together ... and I HATE doing 4 chickens alone.  So much easier with help!

Frondly, Fern

Monday, January 17, 2011

Prep Shopping

Blessings, Darlings!

As of this moment, I have $12 left to spend on food thru' the end of Thursday, given our food budget and the shopping I've done so far.  Which is pretty good, given that I underspent by $8 last week, and I really don't have anything left of the 'need for meals this week' list.

Which leaves me more money than usual to add to our food storage.  And that's a good thing since all of us preppers and survivalists and preparedness and just plain broke folks have noticed that food prices have been rising thru' the roof!  Last summer's droughts in Europe and Asia, this winter's flooding in Australia and South American (well, summer floods for them) have caused havoc in food prices.  Rising oil prices are affecting food prices, too, as is diversion of grain into ethanol and into increased meat production.  And the weather we've had in the US is causing 'temporary' jumps in produce prices due to damage to crops in the deep south and California.  Even my winter veggie mainstay, cabbage, has been hit hard by the freezes in Florida.  Strawberries are off the scale in price!

So I'm looking at what foodstuffs to use the food dollars for.  I could use more white wine for cooking, I'm getting a bit low.  That won't take much of it.  So, do I get two 5 pound bags of sugar and one 5 pound bag of flour to add to my storage?  Or do I get another 50 pounds of wheat berries really meant for livestock feed at Southern States or Tractor Supply?

Frondly, Fern

Chocolate Chip Cookie War

Chocolate chip cookies.  So traditional.  Except .... the provoke wars.

Blessings, Darlings!

Ah, the chocolate chip cookies I have had in my life!

For years, the woman in the house next to ours baked and maintained a constant supply of them.  She used M&M's(TM) in the ones she baked.  All the kids in the houses around her came by for our daily dose.  And that was a fairly large number of kids - I was born close to the center of the Baby Boom.  I was only allowed to shake her down for cookies once a day, no more.  I don't know if the other parents had the same rule.  Come to think of it, I don't know how my parents would have known if I violated the rule, but I was a Good Kid so actually never did.

That was so long ago I don't recall anything else about the cookies - can't say if they had much brown sugar, estimate relative amounts of butter vs shortening, or anything else.  I was no foodie then!

Back in high school, quite some time ago, the school cafeteria had chocolate chip cookies that I felt rocked.  Thin, hot from the oven, the grease tended to soak thru' the waxed paper bags they were sold in.  These totally featured brown sugar (or the mix had cheap molasses added in quantity.  The flatness, and texture, spoke margarine as the main fat.  And that there was LOTS of fat. 

Ah, the days of me and cookies both being thin!  Such a long, long, LONG time ago.

Years passed.  I didn't really do sweets for a long time, preferring salty snacks.

Then I married and had a child.  Which led to adult vs child cookie wars.  For, as every parent knows, there are events you have to bake for.  Bake Sales.  Parties.  Pot lucks.  I learned for the first time the intricate effects of different types of fats in baking, and different types of sugar. 

I used only butter in MY cookies then.  Imagine my flat cookies, and my astonishment at seeing cookies that were thick!   OTOH, I was also astonished that those chocolate chip cookies were pallid things - only white sugar in them.

Then, out of no where, my husband and son went into war over sugar.  Yes, as noted a couple of weeks back, the chubby hubby and I like cookies that aren't overwhelmingly sweet.  So I usually used the full amount of brown sugar in chocolate chip cookies .... but reduced or eliminated the white sugar.  Our Spawn, young as he was, rose up in protest!

They also fought over nuts.  Husband wanted nuts, Spawn didn't. I was having to make a batch of cookie dough, split it into two parts, and add nuts to one part and more sugar to the other.

This had to stop.

How did the war end?

Obviously - I taught the Spawn to cook.  And I put him fully in charge of making his own dang cookies.

Since then, he has happily made batch after batch of chocolate chip cookies, searching for the recipe HE likes back.  He liked the online recipe for Alton Brown's Chewy Chocolate Chip cookies (from the "Three Cookies for Sister Marsha" episode), but we don't know where our printout of that got to.  A few days ago he did the recipe from AB's "early Years" cookbook.  But the recipe seems different - the cookies turned out much more cakey than chewy. The Spawn is sad, but still eating them.  He still has a quart of the raw dough for them in the fridge - he bakes about 3 at a time to have the at their hot gooey best.  He will survive, and test new recipes.

The battle rages on.

Frondly, Fern

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Stiffled Creativity!

Blessings, Darlings!

I'm currently overflowing with creative ideas, but ...

Can't find hacksaw.
Can't find sewing supplies.
Can't find woodburning kit
Can't find candles.
Still need to get hunting license so I can grab roadkill.

Frondly, Fern, still furiously unpacking.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Homeless Shelter Education

Blessings, Darlings!

I've spent a lot of time in homeless shelters, having worked in several of them over the years.  The women (the shelters I worked in were for women, especially those dealing with domestic violence) taught me lots of things over the year.

First, we shared recipes.  Which means they taught me to make noodles using the egg mix left over from breading chicken to be fried.  This is dinner here tonight, BTW.

They taught me how to re-use oil for frying.  Which involved repeatedly banging into my thick head that frying shouldn't be at the HIGHEST TEMPERATURE THE STOVE CAN GET TO.  I admit I was a slow student here.  And I still don't save oil that is used to fry fish to fry more fish with later.  The smell is not a family favorite!

They prepared me for motherhood in many ways.  Early on, they taught me to not be fooled by the scent of pine cleaner - just because you smell it doesn't mean they cleaned the place.  Really, the issue here was ownership:  I learned that no one takes responsibility if they don't feel ownership of the problem or the solution. 

Practically, when I was pregnant, they taught me how to extend the use of my pre-pregnancy clothes by use of adaptations like using strong rubber bands from the button on my jeans ... thru' the button hole .... back to the button.  And what brands of sweat pants were most likely to fit thru' the entire pregnancy.

They taught me that there are no people more important in your life than friends, both from the friendship that they provided to me, and from the fact that most of them, when they moved out, moved in with friends themselves.

I also learned that I can't even be in the same building if someone is cooking chitlins, and that some people really CAN burn either spaghetti sauce or macaroni and cheese to the point that they are inedible.  But I'm sure I could have learned that by simply having more roommates over the years, too.

Frondly, Fern

Frondly, Fern

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Them Bones

Blessings, Darlings!

Being Green and Organic and witchy and Frugal, I like to re-purpose everything that we use at least one time.  More if possible.

Tonight's re-purposing theme, in line with Mystic Trad/Amok oral tradition, is FIRST YOU TAKE A DEAD CHICKEN.  So, the dead chicken - in this case, two backs, three drumsticks, and one thigh (all out of the freezer, bought on sale, etc) - will start off being breaded and fried.  And eaten for dinner by the family - purpose #1.

Usually I re-purpose chicken bones into soup stock.  I'm rather lazy on how I do that.  Roast the bones after removing all edible meat.  Take the container of dried veggie scraps - onions, celery, carrots - out.  Put both in big pot, add water, some salt, a few whole allspice/pepper corns/cloves, a few mashed cloves garlic, a few slices of ginger.  Bring to a boil, covered, for 5 minutes.  Put in the hay box cooker
 that I'm sure you've already built.  Leave it there 12 hours.  Strain.  Put back in pot.  Reduce by half.  Done! Purpose #2

However, I don't like what the breading left on them after being dipped and fried does to the stock, and I've been after some vertebra for a while.  So these bones are going to be re-purposed for magic. Purpose #2B

So I'll have to invest time removing tendons and ligaments from them all, and separate them all from each other.  I may simmer them to do the latter, so the house is still going to smell really good.  I'll probably have to bleach the vertebra to get all the gunk out of them, experience tells me.  Then the fun begins!

Using a saw (I'm hoping I can find a friend with a band saw, ours died years ago), I plan on making 'round' slices of leg bones, maybe for beads.  The vertebrae will certainly be used for 'beads'.  If I had ribs, I'd be making Ogham staves out of them.  Some bones will be kept for healing work - when a friend was hit by a hit and run driver, cracking vertebrae, I used some for that.  Some might get kept for artwork. 

I can't WAIT to get my share of our next steer - if no one else wants bones, I'm gonna have LOTS of fun.

All of this might also be used in a sideline online sales business, along with the runes and ogham I already make.  I love having multiple income streams!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Why Cast a Circle?

Blessings, Darlings!

So, after I explained lots of times I do NOT cast circles or otherwise create sacred space, what ARE they great for, and when DO I do it?

In olde-tyme magick, circles were used to keep the nasties out.  Many of the nasties in this case were what the magickian was invoking.  They were a safe space to work in while the mage called up something to bend to her/his will.  If them nasties ever got unionized, it would be REALLY ugly.

Most modern magick-users don't do that type of working today. 

Now circles and other forms of sacred space are primarily (but not exclusively) rather a portal to the Otherworlds.  In the case of a circle, you build your own universe with the Elements and often a God or Goddesses or both.  In the Muglit ritual (the one we used in Mugwort Grove of ADF), we created our own universe with a Triad (usually Earth/Sea/Sky or Nature Spirits/Ancestors/Gods, and added The Well, The Fire, and the World Tree) then opened a gate between the worlds. 

The sacred space might be called "between the worlds", it might be the creative center, whatever.  You leave the created and go where all things are possible, all things are mutable.  To the hidden reality behind our consentual reality.  One step .... not beyond, but one step closer to Truth.

A cast circle will 'mute' or at least turn down the distractions of the mundane, and thus help a person move energy, do magic, feel energy, hear the God/dess/es, more clearly.

But a fully cast circle is time intensive, and far more 'formal' than the workings I usually do.  Most magic is closer to Tweeting on Twitter than filling out a government RFP (request for proposal). 

There are places for both, no question about it.  But not everything requires doing a RFP, and not everything can be handed in 140 characters or less.

Frondly, Fern

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Do You Need To Cast A Circle To Do Magic?

Blessings, Darlings!

In my sometimes-desperate searches for blog topics, I've seen a lot of 'experts on magic' say that you should never do magic unless you do it within a cast circle.  I rather disagree on this point, and feel that for thaumaturgical magic - magic aimed at 'miracle working' - circles are totally optional.  For theurgical workings it IS useful to create some sort of sacred space, circles being one common way of creating that.  (Ivo Dominguez, Jr., goes into lots of ways to cast sacred space for Wiccan rituals in his book "Castings", if you want to look at those).  Goetia, clearly, needs circles and triangles and probably demon-extinguishers, and Ceremonial Magick is, well, fully into ceremony. 

That said, you might have notices that in both of my recent blog posts on doing magic The Healing Cauldron and Steak Sans Sizzle no circles were involved.  In the case of 'steak', casting a circle would have taken away from the magic in several ways - first by drawing attention/odd energy from the rest of the folks in the store, second by being repeatedly violated by children running in and out of it.  For my Cauldron work ... well, let's just say that I know myself.  I'm FAR less likely to do daily work there if I add circle casting to the working, and I don't think that creation of sacred space would add much if anything to the work.

Tomorrow - what ARE circles and other forms of created sacred space good for?

Frondly, Fern

Monday, January 10, 2011

Too Sweet?

Blessings, Darlings!

The Chubby Hubby and I aren't into desserts that hit you with intense sweetness and nothing else.  We prefer desserts with lots of flavor and moderate amounts of sugar.  The Spawn rather despairs at my habit of cutting the sugar in half in chocolate chip cookies and pies.

So I make things like well-spiced Oatmeal Raisin cookies typically, which we all enjoy.

But this holiday season, when every time the Chubby Hubby planned to make the Crescent cookies that I gave the recipe for last week something came up and he had to abandon the plan for that day, I hit the cookbooks to look for a cookie to make myself.  Having moved 3 boxes of cookbooks (yes, I DID get rid of some before we moved!), that took a while.  And deciding which recipe to try took a while, too.

I ended up making America's Test Kitchen's "Best Chocolate Butter Cookies", and they SO totally rocked that they seem destined to be a family favorite for years to come!  They take little sugar in the recipe, which is well to our taste, I could form them into a roll and slice and bake them which suits me better than rolling and using cookie cutters, and a simple glaze (or a dusting of powdered sugar) kicked them up for presentation.

The recipe is in America's Test Kitchen's "Family Baking Book" - we've nicknamed that one "Big Blue" (we call their "Family Favorites" cookbook "Big Red").  I love all their cookbooks, most of which we even have autographed by Christopher Kimball!  And all of which we bought ourselves, since ain't no one sending me review copies of ANYTHING for this blog.  Alas.

Frondly, Fern

Sunday, January 9, 2011

The Healing Cauldron

Blessings, Darlings!


Early last week, during the waning moon, I cleaned out my healing cauldron, readying it for another year of use. 


Midday yesterday, e-mail went out from the Wiccan Trad I'm in that a member's family needed prayers/energy/magic.  So I finally found a location for the cauldron and a candle (yes, refer back to the chaos caused by moving), and did a quick working.

I went back to the computer. The news started rolling in about the mass shooting in Arizona.  Back to the cauldron, more working.

None of my other altars are up in the house, and clearly I was running late in setting up the Healing Cauldron ... and I still need to find the candle supply.  Having a dedicated Healing Cauldron, however, is always a good idea.


For most of the folks I know, 'the healing cauldron' is a useful phrase, an abbreviation for a working.  For me, it refers to a literal cauldron, on an always-erected specific altar, one which usually (like, except during moves) gets daily attention.

The altar I use is simple.  It features a 4-inch cast iron cauldron, a candle, a candlestick if I'm not using a glass-enclosed candle, and some Bridget's Brats, blessed in years of working with Mugwort Grove, ADF. Given the affinity of us AMOKs for hot tubs, I had really wanted to use a doll house hot tub, but resisted that temptation - mostly because I already had a couple of small cauldrons.

Having this ALWAYS set up, any time a request for healing comes my way, I don't have to be distracted by setting things up.  And every morning I light a candle and send energy and prayers for those already in it.

BTW, I usually use Hanukkah candles for this. They burn about 20 minutes, so I rarely have to handle issues of untended candles left burning!

At times, usually the full moon, I make offerings as well, to keep the energy flowing well.  Grain, honey, butter, wine, oil usually.  Sometimes canned goods that will later go to the food pantry for the good of all.

In a way, it's part of my 'prepper' lifestyle.  Illness, injury, death, etc WILL happen to those around you. Being able to spiritually and magically handle those things is part of the drill.

Frondly, Fern

Friday, January 7, 2011


Blessings, Darlings!

A friend of mine has an interesting approach to menu planning - she has decided on what species for every day of the week, and then decides on how to cook it from there.  So, Friday night is always chicken, Wednesday  night is always veggie pizza delivery since she and her husband work late that night, etc.

OTOH, I build my menu around what's for sale that week, and can serve lots of something if it's cheap.  Like chicken 4 times in a week!

Since we have a big old freezer (literally old - we bought it in 1979), I am considering combining the two ideas - menu by species but purchasing LOTS on sale.  It might not work perfectly, but then again it might.

Have any of you tried this yourself?  Do you have other ideas for the menu planning part of life?


Frondly, Fern

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Seeds Found!

Blessings, Darlings!

In my never-ending work to unpack from the move, I've FINALLY found the bulk of my stored seeds Sunday evening.  I was having the hardest time finding them, and feared the guys had put the boxes of them in the detached garage. I didn't want to have to look for the right boxes there (among the 200 other boxes there), nor would the seeds have been happy in single degree temperatures.

But, no - they were in mislabeled boxes, mostly in the living room. 

I still haven't found the herb seeds, but I'm greatly cheered and hopeful that they will soon be found.

See, it's just about time to start onion seeds indoors (and parsley, but as noted, those seeds haven't yet been found).  So it was going to be an ISSUE soon.

I have a 3 year supply of seeds on hand.  They don't take up much room, especially compared to everything else that I struggle to find room for merely a ONE year supply of.

Having found the seeds that meant that on my trip to town I picked up some soil to start the seeds in (the ground here being frozen).  Tomorrow I hope to have time to get them started, if not, then Sunday is my aim.

Have you got/ordered seeds for your garden yet this year?  This is prime time to order them!

Frondly, Fern

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Steak Sans Sizzle

Blessings, Darlings!

It was a Tuesday evening some 6 years ago. No one recalls what the phase of the moon was or any of the other astrological influences.

It was an evening magic was done.

The women met not in the woods, or meadow, or sea shore.  They met at the Borders Bookstore in a centralish location, on a highway, surrounded by lots of other big box stores..  They brought their tired having-worked-all-day bodies, and their children.  After all, no ritual was planned, no worship, no workings.  It was going to be a social evening, a group of Pagan friends sipping coffee and talking.

They certainly did drink coffee and talk.

N's daughter was pregnant again, a wonderful thing.  She had miscarried once already, a devastating loss.  Yes, a likely cause had been identified and mundane medical folks were working on solutions, but the reverberations from the miscarriage were very  much alive for N, her husband, her daughter, and her son in law.

It's NOT fair to say that the women SPRANG into action.  No, the magic that followed was not a bustling, high-octane kind of energy use, a fact that is a little surprising given all the caffeine flowing.

Two of the group walked next door - among the other big box store was a craft store.  Sneaky God/dess/es!  From the supply of 3 or 4 inch tall sturdy wooden letters they selected the one that began the daughter's name.  They picked up 9 feet each of ribbon, in traditional baby pastels of white, green, and yellow.  Then they returned to the pushed-together tables at Borders.

Centers of the ribbons were tied to the wooden letter, and the women began braiding.  Intentions of full term pregnancy, blessings for mother and child, simple goals, braided by each woman in turn.  Conversations continued.  The women's children came in and out of the cafe, showing the books they were reading, asking questions, talking with their mothers and the other women, sipping cocoa, nibbling dessert.  Other tables had other people sipping their drinks, reading their books and magazines, having their conversations. 

Oh - yes, in due time N had her healthy, full-term grandson. 

Frondly, Fern

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

I'm a Guest!

Blessings, Darlings!

I'm a guest! Thanks, cheesecakeless Star Foster!

All of y'all should be reading ANYWAY.  Even tho' they have these occasional lapses in judgement.

Frondly, Fern

Frugal Remix

Blessings, Darlings!

During The Move, and during the packing before it and unpacking after it, we generated practically NO income in our home business.  This is because the bulk of our income comes from doing consulting (paid for by the hour), and not much comes from online sales of our development tools.

Adding insult to the injury of6 weeks of missing income was that the move cost most cash out of pocket than we had thought it would.  So, we're back to the frugal side of life.  Or at least we're trying to live that part of life.  Life has not been cooperating, tho, with car repairs, odd utility bills (first electric bill took our breath away, then we realized it was 'estimated' and did not reflect our actual electric use), etc.

Yule/Hanukkah/Christmas was extremely lean.

Even the Chubby Hubby is reducing driving.

We are giving up one of the two cars (the one that needs the most repairs) and keeping the one that only works in dry weather.  We HOPE to get it fixed soon, but the weather has not cooperated - it needs a rainy weekday for a mechanic to find the problem, but it only seems to rain on weekends! 

It'll all work out, but I really HAD hoped we were going to have a bit more breathing room.  Maybe that's down the road a bit.

Ah, well.  We plan, the Gods laugh.

Frondly, Fern

Monday, January 3, 2011

Crescent Cookies

Blessings, Darlings!

Since I was too busy to blog during the Solstice Holiday Season I'm going to start the year blogging about cookies.

My family is pro cookie, and we bake.  The Chubby Hubby's cookie specialty is a recipe he got from his mother, Crescent Christmas Cookies.  I've no idea where his Mother got it from.  Family? A woman's magazine? A bag of flour? I bless whatever the source was!  Very rich, pleasantly sweet, pecan nutty, he makes a double batch because, while with a week of aging they become even better than when first baked, they are go good when first baked that one batch never survives the aging process!

Baking this year was complicated by the oven in the new-to-us house.  The temperature control in it is not particularly accurate.  I SO wish I had a digital thermometer to test it with,  but I used two analog oven thermometers in it when we first moved in.  Set at 350 F (and left to pre-heat for 20 minutes), one read 305 degrees, the other read 325 degrees.  Either way, the oven runs low when set at 350.  Set at 450, the oven thermometer team said it was far more accurate, one reading 450 one reading 445.  Alas, this recipe calls for baking at 325 degrees!

So we set the oven at 350, and ended up baking them longer than the recipe called for.  Rather like doing good BBQ, 'low and slow'!  They turned out particularly well.  I'm posting the recipe as we got it, but you might want to experiment with lower temperature/longer time baking if you try it yourself.

And, yes, you MUST do the creaming with your hands.  I tried making them myself at the end of 2009, using a blender.  They didn't hold their shape, baked up wrong, were miserable.


1/2 pound butter                                            2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup sugar                                                 1 tablespoon water
2 cups flour, measured before sifting               1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup chopped Pecans                                   Powdered sugar

Cream butter with hands.  Add sugar, vanilla, water, and cream them together, again with your hands.  Sift flour and salt together, then stir them into the butter mixture.  Add nuts and mix thoroughly.

To form the crescents, pick off a walnut-sized piece of dough, and roll it into a crescent shape.  Place on baking pan, spaced about an inch apart.

Bake 20 minute in a slow (325 degree) oven.  Removed when the 'points' of the crescents are lightly brown, but before the entire cookie is brown. They will be pretty delicate at this stage, place carefully on racks to cool a bit.  While still warm, roll in powdered sugar. 

Makes not nearly enough cookies.


Frondly, Fern

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Pagan Utopias

Blessings, Darlings!

Back in the day - during a previous recession that particularly hit the Rust Belt during the Reagan Administration - lots of Pagans (and others) had Back To The Earth, let's all get some land and have a communal agrarian utopia plans.  Not me.

My Utopian plans were always different.  Always suburban or even urban.

In the '80's it was sort of this:  Rust belt homes were cheap.  I used South Bend as an example, since I knew the city well (my in-laws lived there, and my father-in-laws parents before them).  The city had a major university (a little place called Notre Dame) (I AM an Elitist and value access to a great library), and was on a rail line to Chicago for museums, concerts, etc.  A Levitt 2 bedroom house with a basement, some 625 square feet of finished space, on a small lot, with a detached one car garage, ran about $22,000. In 12 square blocks of my in-laws neighborhood alone there were 20 such houses available along with a few larger ones.

Get 10 pagan 'families' to move there.  "Family" was a flexible term, meaning 'groups of pagans who would buy homes', they could be just friends, or married, or have whatever relationships they chose.  Some would get jobs in the city or at the university.  Others would start their own businesses, in the neighborhood, helping revitalize the area.  And the group would incorporate to buy one more house, to be used as a Pagan Place of Worship ... and maybe be a communal kitchen and maybe a child care center or such.  Some of the tiny yards would include organic gardens and tiny orchards.  Others would have swing sets, for we'd be THE place for local kids to hang out.

As a group, we'd have 10 - 20 children in the local public schools, scout troops, little league teams in a few years.  We'd be 10 active families in the local PTAs.  From there, we'd have a heck of a voice, and maybe an elected member, on the school board.  Twenty familes, in one area, active in politics.  We might even agree on one or two items, and work together to get the city to move on that item.  Each family active in one or two outside organizations - friends of the library? Scouts? Little league?  La Leche League? Local politics? Active at the hospital? At the rape/domestic violence center? Environmental groups?

Being an active pagan group, more pagans would come to the area, seeing it as pagan friendly.  Pagan influence would grow, blessing the city more and more.  Asatruar in work ethic, Druid in scholarship, holistic and environmental in outlook, we'd end up spreading blessings and economic renewal throughout the city, then county, then state.

That was my fantasy in the '80s.

Time passed.  I ended up outside of Baltimore, MD then Washington, DC, not in the rust belt.  The fantasy evolved. 

Now it revitalized an area of row houses.  Gardens were gone, but we'd be active in organic Community Supported Agriculture.  Still, local and homebased businesses, families active in the community, would bring renewal.

Now, it's Detroit and its environs that is the go-to city to show the evils of the recession (although the Washington Post over the past few years has been following Elkhart, Indiana, ironically under 20 miles from South Bend).  Could these or similar plans work there, now?

I'm not sure.  The economic base of the city, including city services, is far worse than things were in previous recessions.  It's not clear that starting from the grass roots of one neighborhood can do much, when basic services are cut across the city.  One improvement is that home based businesses now can easily rely on the internet for sales, and not be dependent on the local economy and local sales.  So they would still help the local tax base.  OTOH, starting local small businesses aimed at local clients would be harder to start, and the idea of  having some 'team members' get local jobs might not be possible.

But it sure is interesting to think about.

Frondly, Fern

Fresh Air

Blessings, Darlings!

Bob and I actually took a walk together today, our first time getting a bit of exercise outside in the new neighborhood.  We immediately discovered that NONE of the houses here has a bad view - gosh, this area is beautiful!

We also got to meet one of our neighbors, and her puppy (and another neighborhood dog came by to visit as well).  We all talked for a while, exchanged e-mail addresses, got a feel for each other.  Had a good time!

Several of the houses in the subdivision HAVE gone to either foreclosure or short sales.  The two now for sale have been for sale for a LONG time.  At least one family homeschools, and I know from meeting another neighbor that he and his wife are looking into homeschooling their family (eldest child is not yet school age).

So I learned and did things already today.  Another successful day!  Yay!

Frondly, Fern

Saturday, January 1, 2011

An Office!

Blessings, Darlings!

The Chubby Hubby and the Spawn FINALLY moved the furniture where it needed to be in the room that's supposed to be my office (and food storage room), gave me a bookcase out of the ones stashed in the garage, and moved two other bookcases in the garage into the library.


I'm amazingly happy.  I've already sorted thru' the mail that had accumulated since before we moved and has been sitting in boxes waiting for me to have space to organize it in.  Found one reimbursement check, two cash back things from Staples, and a gift card from Walmart.  Walmart? Whatever.  I even wrote a little something something for Star Foster over at answering the question "What Makes Someone Wiccan?"

Tomorrow I'll make a calendar of what bills are due what day of the month, so I can automate payments.  I HOPE this means I'll be able to blog more regularly - I have a door I can close to block out interruptions.

OTOH, this is farther from the coffeepot/microwave than I was when trying to work from the diningroom table.  But we'll actually be able to EAT in the diningroom!  Woot!

Frondly, Fern

Mom Update

Mom's coherent again.  She understands she was in the hospital for two days, tho' she doesn't remember being there.  She understands she broke her neck in two places.

She has also fired the helper we had staying with her, since now she remembers to wear the neck brace and doesn't feel she needs the help.  Even tho' she's unsteady on her feet.

My cousin (whose husband is Mom's lawyer) still hasn't sent me Power of Attny, so I can't override Mom's decision.