Monday, April 29, 2013

Morning Epiphany

It's such a little thing, but this morning, as I sit in my favorite chair sipping my coffee and thinking about the tasks I need to accomplish today, the morning sunlight is shining right in my eyes.  Huh.  Something has changed.  My morning sunlight has moved from it's winter spot over my back porch to it's summer spot in the breakfast room.

Honestly, other than deciding where to sit with my coffee so that the sun doesn't hit me in the face, it's not something I have ever given much thought to before this morning.  Such a tiny yet mind-blowing epiphany.  I wonder if this must be what the pagans who created Stonehenge felt as they watched the sun's annual journey across the sky. 

So now I have to ask myself:  how likely is the neighborhood association to write me a letter if I erect a megalith marking this moment?
At the very least I should move my prisms.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Idea Book: Beltane

As I may have mentioned before, I love decorating for the holidays, and while I may have boxes and boxes (and boxes...and boxes...) of decorations for the big ones like Yule and Samhain, Beltane (May Day) presents more of a challenge for me to sink my crafty little teeth into.  Spouse may roll his lovely eyes and sigh audibly once the ribbon and hot glue gun come out, but me--I'm in the zone!  Since I was hunting down inspiration anyway, I thought I'd share my findings...
Beltane, to me represents all the best of springtime, and of course you've gotta have a May Pole.  I'm loving this May Pole-inspired planter and it looks fairly easy to accomplish--just a pot, a dowel, a decorative finial, paint, lots of ribbon and of course, flowers.
If you are celebrating Beltane old school, then of course you need to dress the part.  How easy it would be to make a Green Man mask using an inexpensive green mask, some well-placed oak leaves and a little glue?  Or for the ladies a lovely floral garland made with flowers from your garden?

OK, frankly this next one was the coolest Beltane image I found the entire search.  What a fun and colorful idea!  I would be hard-pressed not to leave this up year round.

And of course you have to have a wand...

Finally, if you get hungry after all of your Beltane decorating, these fabulous Maypole cupcakes from Sweetology101!

You guys are on your own for your Beltane Fire--here chez Discreet Witch we'll be sitting around the firepit making Beltane s'mores until the embers burn down.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Romantic Patchouli

One of my favorite magical herbs to use in romance spells is patchouli.  In magic, patchouli corresponds with wealth, love and sexual attraction.  Long associated with hippies and counter culture activists, this earthy scent has long been considered an aphrodisiac.  Parts used are leaves and essential oil. 

In the garden, patchouli is a bit of a needy herb (in my experience).  It is a perennial  which (if happy) grows to up to three feet high.  Down here in the coastal South, patchouli likes morning sun and afternoon shade and needs to be watered fairly often in the summer.  Farther north, it needs to be protected from freezing or replanted every year. 

DARK PATCHOULI Artisan Alchemist Ritual Perfume Oil for Money, Prosperity, Financial Success, Land & Earth Magick, Fertility, Aphrodisia
Personally, I find the essential oil to be a bit strong and prefer to dilute it (a LOT) for a subtle hint of fragrance--remember, you want that special someone to have to lean IN to smell you, not back away.  A single drop in a dollop of unscented lotion is more than enough.  Alternately, there are many perfumes and colognes available today which contain patchouli--Prada, White Patchouli by Tom Ford, Casmir by Chopard to name a few.  On nights of the full moon, I like to leave my perfume in a pool of moonlight to charge it, just as I do my other magical tools.  Then, I visualize my love as I spritz a little on before date night.  Works like a charm.


Saturday, April 20, 2013

Cooking By The Seasons

There's something about springtime that wakes my inner foodie.  Perhaps it's the prospect of fresh local produce I find at the farmers' market, or maybe it's the rising temperatures that mean I can finally use the grill again.  Whatever the reason, it's time to hit the cookbooks!

Let me just say right now, I love pagan cookbooks.  While I normally avoid using other witches' spells, I enjoy following really good pagan recipes.  Something about it just makes me feel the magic.  Any time I'm at my local bookstore, I can be found discreetly poking through the Metaphysical section in hopes that a shiny new magickal cookbook has appeared.

To date, one of my all-time favorite pagan cookbooks is "Cooking By The Seasons" by Karri Ann Allrich.  My copy of this poor book has definitely been well used--the cover is food stained and creased, with dog ears and old ribbons marking my favorite recipes.  Ms. Allrich organizes her recipes by seasonal festivities--starting with spring holidays Ostara and Beltane and cooking her way through the year.

Since today is a glorious spring day, with just a little bite of cold, and since the row of peas I planted earlier this year has been productive, I think I'll be making a variation of the Lemon Risotto with Baby Peas.  The original recipe is great, but I like my little tweaks. 

extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup green onions, sliced
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
1 1/2 cups arborio rice, uncooked
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 cup white wine
5 cups stock (I like chicken, the original recipe called for vegetable)
1 cup baby peas, blanched
1/3 cup Parmesan cheese
salt and fresh pepper
parsley for garnish

In a large pot, bring stock to a simmer.  In a separate, heavy saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat and saute the onions and lemon zest until sweated.  Add the uncooked arborio rice and stir about a minute.  Add lemon juice and white wine and stir until the liquids are absorbed.
Add two cups of broth and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the liquid is absorbed.  Add another cup of broth, stirring occasionally until the liquid is absorbed.  Continue to add broth one cup at a time until all the stock is used.  Stir in peas and Parmisan, salt and pepper to taste.  Garnish with the parsley and serve.

For your own copy of Cooking By The Seasons, by Karri Ann Allrich:

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Recycling Books

Like most witchy girls I know, I'm a huge bibliophile.  Seriously, I'm a sucker for books.  I love the way they feel in my hands, I love the smell of old paper.  I even love the way they look stacked on most surface areas in my home.  You will find no Kindles chez Discreet Witch--I gotta have real pages to turn.
Having said that, though, the other day, after watching an episode of Hoarders, I was cleaning out my personal library and I had to stop and ask myself:  Do I really need my old college textbooks anymore?  I can't sell them (who would want 'em?) and I couldn't possibly throw them away.  What to do, what to do?  The magic of the Internet to the rescue!  This topic has been done to death, but still...
Anyway, below are some crafty inspirations and ideas for old books, but honestly there are loads and LOADS of other cool ideas to be found.

I could just wrap them in brown paper a la Restoration Hardware...

...or I could go crazy with the scissors and get creative!

Here's a cleaver idea for wall art...

Or this fabulous lamp!

I love, LOVE these shelves!


And my favorite...

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Cauldron Rescue 911

Recently I found this sad, neglected and rusty cast iron Dutch oven at a yard sale and of course my first thought was:  Cauldron!
I can rebuild it...I can make it better than it was before.  Better...stronger...faster.
Seriously, how hard could it be?

After the first twenty minutes of work, I began channeling my inner Miyagi and started switching arms to scrub.  "Scrub on, scrub off.  Scrub on, scrub off."  I was gonna be so buff after this experience.  After an hour, the kids grew bored with Mom's special project and began clamouring for attention.  Gradually the rinse water became less orange and more black.  A good sign.  A couple of hours later, as my arms were cramping up, I began to ask myself how much I really needed a new cauldron.

The most important part of reseasoning any cast iron is to get all of the rust off.  Every damned bit.  In the case of the Bionic Cauldron (as I had taken to calling my garage sale treasure) this meant a LOT of scrubbing using steel wool and various kitchen abrasives. 

Finally there comes a point when all good witches have to say "Good enough."  Besides, I still had laundry to do.  The rust was cleared and patches of iron gleamed dully through.  I proudly showed the family.  They were underwhelmed.  Whatever.  Dear spouse eyeballed the scrubbed product saying "you know, I bet I have a tool that would have cleaned that more quickly."  Huh, I hadn't thought of that.  Oh well, brute strength is all the tool I need.  Dremels are for suckas.

Now all was left was the seasoning.  That's the fun part.  I coated my clean new cauldron with vegetable shortening, inside and out, and placed upside down it in a 350 degree oven for a couple of hours.  The house kind of smelled like a fast-food restaurant afterwards, but it was worth it!  After a final cleansing and blessing with incense, my glorious new cauldron is healed!

(Follow up on the Bionic Cauldron--the inaugural task of my glorious new cauldron?  Spouse made chili in it.  If nothing else, that alone would clear any negative spiritual residue.)