Saturday, January 31, 2015

Beannachtaí Na Féile Bríde Oraibh!

Beannachtaí na Féile Bríde agus Imbolc oraibh/ Brigid's Day & Imbolc blessings to you all! Here is a beautiful version of Gabhaim Molta Bríghde sung by Aoife Ní Fhearraigh for you all to enjoy. May Brigid bless you, your families and your homes!




Sunday, January 18, 2015

Garden Dreaming

It's getting to be about that time of year where us Northern gardeners getting that itch to play in the dirt; thankfully we have designing and planning, seed swapping and buying, and plant starting to hold us over until the ground thaws. 

Every year my plans tend to be grander than what I can live up to, especially the last two or so where I have just not had the time I wished to carry out the plans that were swimming through my imagination the previous Winters. This year I am to my gardener's ego from some bruising and keep things a bit more simple. 

There will be some types crop plants that I will be staying away from because they always end up turning out to be disasters {like melons!} and stick to ones that tend to be kinder to me, whether pampered or left to their own devices. I want to focus more on root crops and greens this year,  as well as tomatoes, beans, summer and winter squashes and perhaps have a hand at growing a super big pumpkin {read: anything bigger than a dwarf variety!}.  The old faithful varieties will have space in  the garden and there are a few varieties that I would like to try, I just haven't fully narrowed down all those yet.

Room for perennials is getting quite scarce, although there could be more room next year once some of the biennials are done this coming growing season. I am pretty sure that I have a wee bit of a problem when it comes to collecting perennials and I have a very hard time thinning them out. Not being one to toss them onto the compost heap, I need to find homes for the ones taking over the garden or I just end up leaving them be. That still doesn't stop me from growing or buying more though. I just may have to start growing them in containers and burying them in the veggie patches for overwintering. 

Container gardening is something that I want to expand on this year, for both veggies and flowering annuals, with a focus on drawing in pollinators. Our wild critter garden bed will be getting some more additions too {maybe I do still have room for more perennials!} and intend to add some bee nest boxes to go along with our critter hotel.

I still have to narrow down my wishlist, but the ones that I think are my top contenders:

and some type of super warty pumpkin or winter squash such as Galeux d' Eysines or Red Warty Thing.

What are your garden plans and/or must haves for 2015?

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Beeswax "Bloom"

Those who are not frequent users or crafters of items made from beeswax might not be familiar with a white substance often found on pure beeswax called "bloom". It has a powdery look to it and one might think that it is mold or dust, but it is natural occurrence that happens with pure beeswax after it has been exposed to cooler temperatures after a while. 

I personally really like to look of bloom and leave all my beeswax candles and other pretties be when it forms, it kind of gives it an old look about it. 

That said, I realize that it is not to everyone's taste, so when crafting beeswax items for others, I try to remove bloom before sending it out, just as I did with the candle and heart charm pictured here. I just used a blow dryer on a low temp on them for a couple of minutes and voila, all shiny again!

Here is a video that you might find helpful to remove bloom from your own beeswax products should you wish:




Wednesday, January 14, 2015

A Northern Winter Tea Recipe

This is a herbal tea blend that I started making this Winter for both myself and some friends for holiday gifts. Today I made another batch so I thought that I would share the recipe for others to try if they are so inclined.

{Please remember that when ingesting herbs, it is important to make sure that they are safe, and that they won't counteract with medications that you may be taking or interact with a health condition or status--such as pregnancy--that you might have in a negative way. The best way to do this is to do plenty of research and consulted with your health professionals.}

Should you be unfamiliar with making herbal tea blends, this video might be of interest to you:





Winter Rituals {Hogmanay 2014}

My New Years Eve was spent dealing with spiritual matters and enjoying liquid spirits in about equal measure. Before I got to that though, the house went through a pretty rushed cleaning spree and then I brought out the porter cake that I had made on Midwinter {made with a Scottish raspberry ginger beer! Yum! :D}, fudge, bannocks and other treats for both offerings and for us to enjoy. 

Once the clock struck midnight the backdoor was opened to let out all the stuff from the last year it was time to let go of {and nasties in general} and the front door was opened to welcome in the new year. After the house was sained inside and out with juniper, and a Hogmanay blessing was said, it was time for some merriment before everyone eventually toddled off to bed.

The next day I went to make some offerings outdoors, and went for a little walk to both enjoy the new snow and to see if there could be any omens could be seen for the coming year. 

I hope that you all enjoyed bringing in 2015 and wish you all the best for this year!


Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Winter Rituals {Grianstad an Gheimhridh 2014}

On the morning of the Winter Solstice I woke up a little earlier than I have been lately to greet the rising sun. After saying a devotional prayer and leaving offerings to local nature spirits, I went back inside to get some baking and seasonal decorating done.

I got busy making a birch bark garland and seasonal candles, baking short bread and porter cake and some chocolate bark. 

Originally it was planned that I would get together with some friends for a ritual and dinner to celebrate the coming of Winter, but a few of us were feeling a tad under the weather. Instead the night was relatively quiet spent in prayer and meditation and making offerings to An Cailleach. 

I was kind of glad to open up what tends to be a hectic holiday season with a pretty laid back evening. And as it turned out, I had some time to make merry later on. ;) 



Monday, January 12, 2015

Winter Rituals {Oíche Shamhna 2014}

As with my posts for my 2014 observances for the Summer festivals, I have a series of belated posts for the Winter festivals that I will be sharing over the next little while. This one is for this past Samhain. 

Leading up to Oíche Shamhna/Samhain Eve, the house was cleaned top to bottom and the final harvests from the garden were brought in. I also had the time to do a little more decorating this time, include carving a gaggle of Jack-o'-Lanterns made out of turnips, squash and pumpkins.

Quite a bit of food prep and baking was done, and this year we ate and made offerings of baked squash, roasted carrots and parsnips, stuffing, barmbrack, nuts and apples, chocolate, blueberry mead and mulled cider.

A couple of days beforehand I put together a larger Ancestor shrine and one for An Cailleach, during which we got our first snowfall of the season, which continued right through Samhain Eve. 

After the time of the trick-or-treaters {which was a sad turn out again this year!} I kept vigil throughout the night, spending time doing divination and making various charms for necromancy and ancestors, a new parshall cross and protection charms to ward off the damage that can be caused by storms. 

 A few days into November I did a ritual to essentially to make peace with those who had passed on who I had damaged relationships with. This was profoundly healing for myself at least and I will talk more about this ritual and the topic in general in an upcoming post. 

More to come!