Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Yule - The Darkest Night

Since Mother Winter decided to show off on Sunday with another huge dumping of snow and lots of wind our Winter Solstice gathering was postponed until Monday, which was yesterday.

Thanks to Valery and Charlene with the planning and writing that was needed for the ritual it went really well and everyone seemed to enjoy it. We cast our circle with candles and poured the melted wax into a bowl of water to see the shapes that would appear to give us insight into the coming year.
There was a mediation, with a minor incident of my cat Smudge lighting his tail on fire with a candle! Luckily the cat didn't even feel it and the candle was blown out for safety. His tail has a section of fur that is a bit shorter now. The smell of burned fur is definitely less than pleasant!

We sang some traditional caroles with words that are more appropriate to the honouring of the Goddess and the returning of the light at this time. It was a good laugh trying to remember the new words without falling into the habit of singing the christian version.

We had an exchange of crystals as gifts and as always we all seemed to receive what we needed most. We even did a craft! We wrote a message to ourselves on a square of paper that will not be opened until Imbolc (Feb 1st) and then folded it into an orgami star for safe keeping.

Then of course there was the feasting after of all the yummy things everyone brought. A fun afternoon with a wonderful group and everyone left with a warm and connected feeling to each other and to our mother earth.
Bright Blessings to all at this Yule time. May the darkness nurture you in it's comforting embrace and may you find it energizes you with it's quiet stillness in readiness for the coming of spring.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

There are cookies and then there are Cookies!!

Tis the season for baking in my house. I can't seem to resist that temptation of baking cookies for yule and christmas just like my mom always did when I was a kid. Problem is 1. I don't want to eat the damn things 2. I shouldn't eat them because they are made with flour and wheat and I do not get along very well and 3. I have no will power and I don't need the things in my house!!

But as usual I start asking the kids what kind of cookies do they want to make and then it all gets out of control. Leah wants shortbread, a favourite of everyone but Quinn, and Quinn wants these sugar cookie stocking cookies with chocolate chips and nuts in them.

So we started this evening on the stocking cookie dough and Quinn wants marshmallows instead of nuts to be rolled into them. Which made a bit of a mess when the marshmallows kind of EXPLODED! They sure don't look like stockings any more! The kids were disappointed but enthusiastically offered to eat them anyways, what great kids I have!

So on we go to shortbread, which I truly love but of course I need to make gluten free shortbread. Well the internet has all these lovely recipes for gluten free "melt in your mouth" shortbread. Seriously I don't think anyone who wrote this has eaten "real" shortbread in a very long time! Melt in your mouth? well kind of if you like that gritty fine grain sandy feel that rice flour seems to always leave in your mouth.
Well as usual I can't leave a recipe alone and have had some success with gluten free pancakes by mixing in a variety of flours. I used less of the rice flour and made use of amaranth flour to make up the difference plus the cornstarch they called for. Well I mixed it with the butter and icing sugar as called for in the recipe and tasted the dough and bleck! Nasty flavour and gritty! So I thought it's time to leave the purity of shortbread behind and just save the dough. I splashed in vanilla and then went for the frangelico, my fav liquor. It helped the taste but I wanted to actually taste the flavour of the frangelico and it was barely noticable. I moved on to amaretto and splashed that in. That kicked it up a few notches! I had to add in more rice flour and cornstarch and more icing sugar to make it less sticky. I of course don't measure but just kept messing with it until it seemed the right consistency.
I threw the almond onto the cookies on the 2nd sheet since these cookies will end up on a cookie plate at some point and I wanted to give a heads up that they aren't the usual kind of shortbread.
So in the end they do melt nicely in the mouth, the flavour is Ok with a nice amaretto overtone and the texture I can live with but still a wee bit gritty. I am going to continue to experiment until I find a way to make shortbread that is as good as my whipped shortbread recipe and is gluten free. Those shortbread cookies are worth the belly aches until I crack this problem. Well I'll try and keep it down to 2 cookies, those pains are not much fun.

Monday, December 08, 2008


There is magic in a house decorated in lights, blanketed in drifts of snow, under a star spangled indigo sky.

There is magic in the frozen stillness of the river. The constant ebb and flow and lapping of water has vanished and leaves only silence...

There is magic in a single flake of snow captured on a brightly coloured mitten. The amazement of it's perfection and the utter wonderment that it is completely unique from all the others falling from the sky and piling on the ground.

Blessed Be at this magical time of year.

Beauty All Around

Sunsets lately have been incredible. I wonder if it has something to do with the cold air. The colours are so much more intense. This picture was taken on the beach by a rental cottage near the sandbanks at Thanksgiving.

It must be because we are still new here that everything seems so much more beautiful. I constantly see these views that just seem to cry out to be photographed. The snow, the fog, the morning mists, the spring rains and even the heavy heat of the summer all seem to have become so much more ethereal here.

We've now lived here 2 years and yet it still feels like we have only just got here. We have made lots of friends here and feel very much at home. We started to drive a bit more "county" on the roads now that we've figured out where the roads take us. We still haven't managed to get to visit all the places we have been wanting to yet in the County. I think I need to make a list and a plan so we can see all these places that I've only seen in photos.

It's funny how this place seems to fit so well for me. It's like everything I did before, whether it was work or art or just things I learned from other people, have all come together and make sense and I can apply better here. It's like I needed all those previous experiences and they were laid out in front of me with the ultimate plan of where I was going to be in the future when I was going to actually to need all that information.

It's funny I even like the snow better here, though I have a hell of a lot more shoveling to do here! It's feeling very festive outside today with all the snow, though the weatherman says it's going to be raining by late tomorrow, bleck! Quinn is quite put out that it's supposed to rain and he'll lose all the snow to sled it. World's best present last year turned out to be the $3.99 Canadian Tire blue plastic flying saucer for sledding. The kids love them since they don't sink in the snow like the crazy carpets and are much easier to just throw the thing down and jump on it to go down the little hills. Not to mention you do get a pretty good spin happening on the bigger hills. I had one when I was a kid and it really was an awesome sled machine!