Monday, May 21, 2012


Blessings Darlings!

I've been getting more 'butt time' in on my bike - the road bike now, instead of the exercise bike.  While spending some (not enough!) time on the exercise bike over the winter DID do a lot for my legs and lungs ... my ass now has to adjust to a different, narrower, seat and to the bumps in the road.  I am looking forward not only to biking to and from the closer store again soon but to my butt not complaining for days afterwards.  My legs and lungs are ready for the trip now, even with the hills.  My sweet butt is not.  Of course, the closer store has some of the highest food prices of the stores in the general area.  I mostly go to that store for things that they have on loss-leader specials, especially if I can use coupons while there.  This past week was one of those weeks!  The BBQ sauce the family likes to use for a 'baked on' sauce was BOGO AND I had coupons.  It brought the price down to 40 cents a bottle.  I got 4 bottles.  And each bottle had a coupon for "If you buy two bottles, you get $2 off of Kool-Aid," which was ALSO on sale.  The Chubby Hubby likes to drink the Purple flavor (grape flavor it is NOT) so I got two of those for $1 each.  I also got worceshire sauce for 20 cents, using a sale plus a doubled coupon. 

My plan is to start going to the local store by bike only, not car, by next week.  And my further plan is to bike to and from the 10 mile away less expensive stores .... as soon as possible. May the Gods grant that my bike and I haul home lots of equally good bargains over the next year!

Frondly, Fern

Tuesday, May 15, 2012


Blessings Darlings!

What do you do when you're under stress?  I cook and in the past day and a half I've made loaf bread, rolls, egg rolls, fried Chinese noodles, and those cupcakes.  

Just got the estimate on the car - $1700, the timing belt went out taking valves with it (BTW, I'm typing this on Monday).  We'll have that done, and I asked for an estimate on fixing the AC and the fan.  This would zero our emergency fund (the fund having already been hit by the Chubby Hubby's abscess and tooth removal), so it's going on one of the credit cards that we've been working hard on paying off.

The Spawn took today off of work, since he was only scheduled for 4 hours (at minimum wage) and the taxi is $25 each way.  He's next scheduled for Thursday, which is the soonest we'll get the car back.  I'm hoping he'll get a ride to work then, even if he has to go in 2 hours early and read or such while waiting to clock in.

I'll bike to the store on Wednesday, which is the first day we're supposed to have without rain.  It'll be a milk/eggs/OJ/etc run ... alas, at the store that's most expensive, but 3 miles away.  It's worth paying more to not bike to a store 10 miles away.  I'd dreading the hills.  I lived on a bike in Illinois, biking 40 miles in a day without thinking, but the land there was FLAT.  And I do wish the bike had fenders for rainy days!

A new bike for me,with fenders, more appropriate for my size and age than the current one, is TOTALLY on my want list.  But it's lower on the list than new glasses and some dental work for all of us.  I can always walk to the store if I have to, of course, but in warm weather I'd like perishables to be out as little as possible, thus would prefer to bike than walk them home.

Monday, May 14, 2012

White Cake

Blessings Darlings!

The car is dead AGAIN.  Died Saturn's Day, as the Chubby Hubby and I were in the next town over to buy cartridges for the printer and fax and an upgrade of Adobe paraplegic Acrobat for his new laptop.  Just suddenly DEAD. Battery would crank, but engine wouldn't catch.  He thinks bad fuel when I filled earlier that day, tho' I only got 4 gallons.

At any rate, the car is at the towing company, which is very close to the repair shop.  The repair place isn't open weekends, so we couldn't really take it directly there.  Spawn took a cab back from work today, and he'll try to get rides and only take cabs when needed to work tomorrow (and may call out Monday, since he isn't scheduled for many hours and the damn cab is $25 plus tip each way!).

I was going to do grocery shopping while we were out, too, so I'm low on a few things.  Like eggs.  Which is sad since I wanted eggs for Mothers Day breakfast.  And I want to make some cupcakes.

I WILL make the cupcakes, but instead of making yellow cake ones I'll be using a White Cake recipe and using all those egg whites we have in the freezer.  We accumulate those because the Spawn uses mostly egg yolks in many of the things he cooks - like the quiches and ,,,, well, something else he cooks that is escaping my memory now.  I have probably 5 egg whites in the freezer, and I'll use them all in the cake recipe tho' it only calls for 4.

Being a Prepper, of course, I have lots of dried eggs in #10 cans and a few smaller cans of dried egg whites around.  But once those are open you  have to use them, so I'd rather not open them unless TSHTF (the shit hits the fan).  I've cooked with them before - when I worked in the shelter in Central Illinois we got a lot of surplus dried eggs.  They were fine, but they are not my first choice in cooking with.

So, Monday I'll be making bialys AND cupcakes.  We have lots of strawberries, so those will go with the cupcakes, sort of using them instead of biscuits for Strawberry Shortcake. 

And depending on the diagnosis on the car, I might be biking to the store this week instead of having the Spawn pick up groceries on his way back from work.  Because I have eggs listed on the menu for dinner on Thursday.  And we'll run out of milk by Wednesday, and my husband is not thrilled with reconstituted dry milk. 

Mind you, if he had to drink it, he would.  If we had to eat dried eggs, we would and we'd enjoy them in omelettes and such.  Which is why all this is a 1st world problem, except for the problem with the Spawn getting to and from work. 

Frondly, Fern

Friday, May 11, 2012


Blessings Darlings!

Now, I know that not all y'all reading this are darlings.  In fact, in looking over the stats for the blog I'm seeing hits from some .... odd .... sources.  Sites that I suppose SOME folks would click on to see what they are about, that they are giving me up to 15 hits a day. 

As if.

No, non-darlings (who probably are bots and not reading this, but whatever).  I'm not going to test my firewall and click on those odd links.  I think that my firewall would stop your malware, but that's not a reason to go poke a stick into a hornet's nest.

Frondly (or not), Fern

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Earth Religions

Blessings Darlings!

I'm a bit confused today.  I mean - aren't ALL religions we know about 'Earth Religions'?  It's not like they are Alpha Centauri religions.  They are being practiced here on Earth ... or at farthest they were practiced on the Moon, but still from Earth by Earthlings/humans. 

"Oh, but Fern," I've been told, "Other religions seek to TRANSCEND Earth." 

You mean the folks who keep telling me that we are NOT humans, but 'spirits having an Earthly experience'? You mean the folks who are after Enlightenment as opposed to Gnosis?

"No, I mean Christians because they deny folks Earthy Pleasures."  Actually, that could better be said of the Buddhists, who could see walking out on your Wife and newborn child as "the path to enlightenment' and see the entire Universe as illusion/Maya keeping you from enlightenment.  And to whom attachment to pleasure leads inevitably to suffering.

And, darlings, it's not like Christians are one uniform group.  Sure, some of them see Earth as corrupt and evil. Most don't.  OTOH, most Pagan religions have a 'golden age' as part of their mythos, so it could very well be argued that 'we' see the Earth/Humans/the whole shebang as 'fallen' and 'corrupt' and 'entropic' and dammit what is the word I'm looking for?  I'll think of it eventually .... might even put it in here.

"We" are not significantly different from 'them'. We have more in common than most of us like to admit.  Because all religions on Earth arise from [the Gods] filling human needs and the experiences of living on this planet in these bodies.

Frondly, Fern

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Havamal - Part 10

Blessings Darlings!

We're still going thru' general advice here.  And I'm still just generally running off at the fingers.

Never lift your eyes and look up in battle,
Lest the heroes enchant you,
who can change warriors
Suddenly into hogs,

Focus on the task at hand.  One opponent at a time.  Use your to-do list - planning 'ahead of the battle' (before you start your day) lets you identify which opponent to fight when. 

With a good woman, if you wish to enjoy
Her words and her good will,
Pledge her fairly and be faithful to it:
Enjoy the good you are given,

Don't be a douche. Put a ring on it.

Be not over wary, but wary enough,
First, of the foaming ale,
Second, of a woman wed to another,
Third, of the tricks of thieves.

Oh! Among the survivalists/preppers I hand with I see the overwary often:  Everything seen as an immediate critical threat.  No ability to relax in any circumstance.  It's more than balanced among those who don't prep at all, who are not at ALL wary of the /thievesgovernment/wars/pandemics/other threats that do exist.

Mock not the traveller met On the road,
Nor maliciously laugh at the guest:
Scoff not at guests nor to the gate chase them,
But relieve the lonely and wretched,

The sitters in the hall seldom know
The kin of the new-comer:
The best man is marred by faults,
The worst is not without worth.

Never laugh at the old when they offer counsel,
Often their words are wise:
From shrivelled skin, from scraggy things
That hand among the hides
And move amid the guts,
Clear words often come.

Don't be a douche. Listen to everyone. Evaluate, of course, but listen.

Heavy the beam above the door;
Hang a horse-shoe On it
Against ill-luck, lest it should suddenly
Crash and crush your guests.

Medicines exist against many evils:
Earth against drunkenness, heather against worms
Oak against costiveness, corn against sorcery,
Spurred rye against rupture, runes against bales
The moon against feuds, fire against sickness,
Earth makes harmless the floods.

I need to understand those more.  Earth against drunkenness - not sure about that. Fire against sickness - fire purifies in general and destroys sources of contageon.  Beltain is tomorrow as I type, when herds would be driven between two fires.  Turns out that helps kill off lice and other insects that carry disease. 

And, dang, why translate whatever the original word was to "costiveness"?  I just looked the damn thing up - it's CONSTIPATION.  I assume they mean eat green leaves to fight that, because I'd use the tannins of bark and acorns in teas to fight diarrhea (and possibly the worms they use heather against). 

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

This week's eats.

Blessings Darlings!
We just inventoried the freezers - okay, the Spawn did it for me. Which means some meat is labels "Mystery Meat" because he doesn't recognize it on sight and didn't ask me.  And the list doesn't tell me what FORM the meat is in - is the beef slices, a roast, or cubes?  Dunno!

We'll be eating mostly out of the freezer this month, since last month Spawn's work hours were cut radically so he can't buy much in the way of groceries this month.  Which is life, and it's not TOO bad because last month the stores had a HUGE amount of meat reduced/sell NOW and I bought what I could then.  The freezer's pretty full, and we have spring greens coming out of the lawn and a few from the garden.  And we still have some canned green beans, and I'm sprouting mung beans, etc.

So, this is what we'll eat from May 5 till May 18:

Thursday, May 3 - baked chicken (4 pieces for 3 people), rice, salad, zucchini

Friday,, May 4 - Yaki Soba (it's Japanese Lo Mein, sort of) with 1.5 lb of veggies (cabbage, carrots, mushrooms) and 9 oz pork

Saturday,  May 5 - Home-made Pizza (Cheese, red pepper, some pepperoni), Salad

Sunday, May 6 - Pulled Pork (Leftovers from making it a few weeks back), rolls, slaw (I had mine as part of a green salad and no slaw)

Monday, May 7 - Leftovers.

Tuesday, May 8 - Bi Bim Bop - sort of Korean Fried rice, with bean sprouts, carrots, spinach, mushrooms, zucchini, fiddleheads, some beef, special sauce.

Weds, May 9 -  egg rolls (using the leftover pulled pork, some shrimp, lots and lots of cabbage)

Thurs, May 10 - tacos. Filling will be half bean, half beef.

Friday May 11 - Fried chicken.  Because we can. Salad, broccoli, potatoes

Saturday, May 12 - Spaghetti, red sauce, salad.

Sunday, May 13 - Ribs, slaw, corn bread/hush puppies, salad

Monday May 14 - Leftovers

Tuesday, May 15 - Fried Fish, broccoli, buns? or some other starch.

Wednesday,  May 16 Kalbi (korean BBQ), rice, salad, green beans

Thursday, May 17 - Veggie Omelets, fresh bread, fruit

Friday, May 18 - baked whole chicken, salad, baked potatoes, spinach

I'll need to buy egg roll wrappers, eggs, milk, OJ, salad stuff, butter, ketchup, and a few more items, but not much.  Still, more than the $15 (1/4 of his take home pay) that the Spawn will be kicking in for the next few weeks.

How's your food budget doing?

Frondly, Fern

Monday, May 7, 2012


Blessings Darlings!

This past week - the first week of  May - temperatures here were around 90 every day and the humidity starting going up, up, up.  So now that a cool front has moved in and temperatures are barely 70, I'm catching up - and trying to get a head of - cooking.

Since I bake most of our breads, that means two or more loaves of bread a week plus some rolls.  After breakfast this morning we were down to 4 rolls and two slices of bread left.  So now I've got two new loaves of bread in the oven.  Bialys will wait for another day.

I also have been working on the alchemy of changing 1.5 cubic feet of frozen bones into stock.  That, too, involves the oven.  Ovens, actually - the 'regular' oven for roasting the bones and then the hay box oven for simmering the soup.  I'm about half way done with batches of stock, and will be continuing that this week.

Because, as you know, summer follows spring.  And I won't want to turn on the oven then.  I wish I could fill the freezer with more baked goods .... but I've got it so filled with sale-priced meat that there's no room.  I'll have SOME more room when the bones are replaced by stock, but loaves of bread a BIG suckers. 

Yeah. First world problems again.  I justify it by saying it's about using everything that come into the house down to the last bit.  But it still comes down to too much stuff coming into the house.

Frondly, Fern

Friday, May 4, 2012


Blessings Darlings!

I've finally reached a GOOD milestone in my work on improving my eating habits.  For the first time .... I bought a big ol' 1 pound box of  organic spring mix AND WE ATE IT ALL BEFORE IT WENT BAD. 

Salads at dinner for everyone.  Salads as lunch or breakfast for me. Salads anointed with hard boiled eggs, or lentils, or leftovers, or whatever.  It took work and planning - I'm hoping that this gets more automatic over time. 

Next trip to the store I need to remember to get some fresh mozzarella for salads (as well as for pizzas), because Suz had one with that and drizzled balsamic vinegar that was AMAZING when we were out on Monday.  And today I'll roast portabellas and potatoes to re-create the salad I had while out ... wait, I'll need some feta for that, so that might wait.  I guess I'll just make some more lentils.

No, my weight isn't better.  And, yes, the spring mix was in a plastic box, and I have NO idea where they were grown.  So it didn't help all of my green and Pagan and Wiccan and health and environmental goals. 

Frondly, Fern

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Orange Extract

Blessings Darlings!

During this last round of being broke I took using every bit of food to new heights.  Which meant I had to buy ingredients only, never 'food' as such.  Baking everything from scratch, however, meant that I went thru' even ingredients at a rapid pace.  And things like extracts can be expensive!

So even every orange, lemon, and lime we ate had to do double duty.  We'd eat the orange/use the juice of the lemon or lime, and then the peel would be transformed into the citrus extract du jour.  They are VERY easy to make, except for the price of the vodka.  And as you all know while it is legal to homebrew your own beer and wine it is NOT legal to distill your own liquor. 

Anyway, take the peel of the citrus fruit in question.  Just the colored part as much as possible, the white pith is pretty darn bitter.  Put it in a jar (I prefer glass jars, YMMV).  Cover it with vodka.  Rum or Everclear or whatever might be fine, too, but I use cheap vodka.  You can probably add up to a pint for one orange, somewhat less for the smaller fruits.  Let it sit for a few days.  Strain. Done.

If you're in a hurry, just use a microplane grater on the fruit you want the flavor of and add the peel to the dish, but it's not quite the same.

If you were actually after essential oils for some ritual use ... add the peels to a small amount of flavorless vegetable oil, like peanut or 'vegetable oil' and let it sit.

Frondly, Fern

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Havamal, Part 9

Blessings Darlings!             

It certainly has been a while since I did a Havamal installment.  I'm sorry about that.  But I plan to get back to them regularly now - well, there are only going to be one or two installments after this one, but I figure to do them once a week again. 

What was I doing while away?  Part of it was working on marketing.  Which means I'm reading business and marketing lessons into this segment of the Havamal.  Of course, I see most of life as being about business and marketing, so that's nothing new.

Let a man with his guests be glad and merry,
Modest a man should be"
But talk well if he intends to be wise
And expects praise from men:
Fimbul fambi is the fool called "
Unable to open his mouth.
Fruitless my errand, had I been silent
When I came to Suttung's courts:
With spirited words I spoke to my profit
In the hall of the aged giant.

Some people say that it's hard to find the sweet spot between being too quiet in a group and babbling too much.  If I might be so bold - I'd suggest that it's not that difficult to find.  If you read the front page stories in any paper regularly, have a hobby or two, pay bills, buy/cook/eat food, etc, then you have things to talk about that work their way into most conversations at one point or another.  And if you listen to what others say, and let them have their say, you easily avoid being obnoxious and monopolizing the conversation.  Here Odhinn did talk.  He talked with, not to, Gunnlod, won her confidence, and ended up winning the Mead.

The following day the Frost Giants came,
Walked into Har's hall To ask for Har's advice:
Had Bolverk they asked, come back to his friends,
Or had he been slain by Suttung?

Odhinn, they said, swore an oath on his ring:
Who from now on will trust him?
By fraud at the feast he befuddled Su
And brought grief to Gunnlod.

Uh - isn't Har another name for Odhinn?

It is time to sing in the seat of the wise,
Of what at Urd's Well I saw in silence,
saw and thought on.
Long I listened to men
Runes heard spoken, (counsels revealed.)
At Har's hall, In Har's hall:
There I heard this.

Yes - listen.  Yes - watch. Yes - THINK ON.  These things you can do while holding up your end in a conversation.  And certainly do the thinking all the time. Remember, the fountain of Urd is in Asgard, Odhinn is silent and thinking even there.    

Now, on to advice.  "Rede" if you will.... It's mostly about building community, one person at a time.  Aligning with the honorable and wise, avoiding the fools, putting distance between you and the evil. 

Loddfafnir, listen to my counsel:
You will fare well if you follow it,
It will help you much if you heed it.

Never rise at night unless you need to spy
Or to ease yourself in the outhouse.

I wonder if in the original this is "to watch" - to be on guard. 

If you must journey to mountains and firths,
Take food and fodder with you.

Never open your heart to an evil man
When fortune does not favour you:
From an evil man, if you make him your friend,
You will get evil for good.

If others don't trust someone, there is often a reason.  If it's because they've been shitty to others, they WILL turn on you when it is to their advantage.

If you know a friend you can fully trust,
Go often to his house
Grass and brambles grow quickly
Upon the untrodden track.

Nurture good relationships.  Invest in them.  Yes, I AM typing this at a writing date with Suz, why do you ask?  Friends that you can trust and, at times, vent to are a need in life.  They will help you sort of the gold from the dross, and help you find the right word to use when writing. 

With a good man it is good to talk,
Make him your fast friend:
But waste no words on a witless oaf,
Nor sit with a senseless ape.

Gawds, once in high school, ages and ages ago, I was desperately trying to finish writing a paper due later that day.  I was in the library in a two-person cubicle with  my best friend.  She WOULD NOT SHUT UP.  I ended up screaming at her, walked out, and finished writing in the loud, active cafeteria - it was easier to do their.  The witless will sap your strength and attention.

Cherish those near you, never be
The first to break with a friend:
Care eats him who can no longer
Open his heart to another.

An evil man, if you make him your friend,
Will give you evil for good:
A good man, if you make him your friend"
Will praise you in every place,

Affection is mutual when men can open
All their heart to each other:
He whose words are always fair
Is untrue and not to be trusted.

Bandy no speech with a bad man:
Often the better is beaten
In a word fight by the worse.

THAT advise is SO hard for me to follow!  Some of you know me well, and know that I ... uh ... tend to enjoy a verbal joust rather too much.  I tend to find douchebaggery entertaining when I turn them into targets.

Be not a cobbler nor a carver of shafts,
Except it be for yourself:
If a shoe fit ill or a shaft be crooked"
The maker gets curses and kicks.

If aware that another is wicked, say so:
Make no truce or treaty with foes.

And THAT is how I justify my targeting/identifing/pointing out douchebags. 

Never share in the shamefully gotten,
But allow yourself what is lawful.

Stop the piracy.  We're software developers, ffs, bit torrents are killing us.

That's it for now.

Frondly, Fern

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Book Review - Mystery Teachings From the Living Earth

Blessings Darlings!

I won another book from Weiser/Red Wheel books that I was already planning on buying.  This time it was John Michael Greer's Mystery Teachings from the Living Earth.  I am a happy Fern.  I have been a JMG fan for about a decade now, having 'met' him on the Order of the White Oak e-mail list, then reading his books, reading his weekly blog here on Blogspot , and meeting him for the first time at the Between The Worlds conference in Delaware in 2008.  Yes, I'm a JMG fangirl, even as I disagree with him on any number of things.

So I CONSUMED this short book when it arrived.  The environmental themes are familiar to those of us who read his blog - but while his his blog is about environmental and fuel energy changes happening around us and how to adjust to them, his book is not on on those changes. 

What JMG does in this book is explain the teachings of mystery schools (he is a member of several and has studied others) in the language of the environment.  Now, a whole lot of neopagans describe their religions as "Earth" or "Nature" religions, but this book in unique in demonstrating the teachings using a meadow and all the many and varied ecological systems in it to flesh out the teachings.

Keeping the tradition of having 7 laws he traces wholeness, flow, balance, limits, cause and effect, the Planes, and evolution thru' nature.  Then he examines the spiritual ecology of Magic, Initiation, and History.  Along the way he patiently explains why the mysteries have to be explained differently for different audiences, clears out misconceptions embodied in the idea that the individual and the individual alone creates their own reality, and perhaps most importantly points out that simple is not the same as easy.

That last point is one to remember as you read the book.  The truths explained in it are simple, but not particularly easy to fully understand.  Some of them could have used more explanation and details, in my never humble opinion.  Heck, I had to have the Chubby Hubby remind me of the difference in energy creation (via nuclear power) vs energy stored and released (via coal) .... which was an interesting conversation in the Urgent Care Clinic while waiting to get antibiotics for the CH's abscessed tooth.

I totally recommend the book, but for those who are new to environmental systems theory and/or the teachings of mystery schools .... you may need to read it, do more research and study, and then read it again to get the most out of it.  I'm certainly going to have to read it more than once myself.

Frondly, Fern