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13 Oct

Thanks for stopping by! I’ve decided to move over to Blogger, and you can find me there at The Auld Grey Mare.  I hope you’ll stop in!


Fruity Nutty Baked Oatmeal

12 Oct

My original intent had been to make this for yesterday’s breakfast, since Michael was off work and there was no need to rise early to bake it – but, he was out of steel cut oats so we couldn’t do it.  Last night, when he headed out for some hummus and veggies for our lazy night’s dinner, he also picked up some oats… rolled, as the nearest steel cut oats would require a longish drive to a Whole Foods.

I was planning to use this recipe as a guideline, but halving the recipe and using chopped mixed fruit and Craisins in place of their apricots (which I will definitely try another time), and so this is what I did:

The night before, I combined 3 cups of rolled oats with 1/2 cup chopped walnuts in a glass bowl, then added water just to cover and a couple tablespoons of buttermilk Michael had on hand, and a dash of sea salt.

(odds are higher that I’ll usually have plain yogurt or whey I’ve saved from draining the yogurt to make yogurt cheese.  The idea here is that you want to add an acid to your grains to make them more digestible.  I didn’t notice any impact in the flavor.)

The covered bowl of soaking nuts and grains was left on the counter overnight.  Now the hard part (ha!) – to have this ready to eat before Michael had to head off to work, I had to get up before 7am to finish this off.  That meant actually functioning in a kitchen that isn’t mine before I’ve had any time to wake up -I am so proud!  And this recipe is so easy that it was possible!

In the morning you want to combine 3 eggs, 1 cup of milk, and about 1/4 cup maple syrup, and whisk well to combine – it should be frothy when correctly mixed.   Add the eggs to the oats (which I did not need to drain – the oats soaked it up completely), then fold in a tablespoon of cinnamon, a tablespoon of oil (we used walnut oil because that’s what we had other than olive oil) and a couple handfuls of dried fruit.

Turn the oat mixture into a greased 9×9 baking dish and bake at 375F for 40 minutes.

We didn’t eat it with anything – it takes a lot like bread pudding – but I thought a dollop of Greek yogurt and some banana slices would be a nice addition, along with another little drizzle of maple syrup.  I also think this would make a nice homey dessert, maybe with some sauteed apples and whipped cream.

I am definitely doing this again – probably next week when I’m back home and can use steel cut oats -but the rolled oats work very well!

Tuesday Tag-Along
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Lazy Meatless Monday

12 Oct

As Michael and I were making out plans for the week, we’d fully intended to go hunt down some museums for Monday, or at least go wander through an interesting part of DC – but between traveling on Friday, Ren Faire on Saturday, and a series of errands and outings on Sunday, by Monday, we were both beat.

I’d figured I’d be giving up my Meatless Monday plan since we were going to eat out (which is not at all the right attitude to have, I know – but it all depends on where we’d have wound up.)

But we were not only not eating out, we weren’t in any mood to cook either, and we had a problem – we’d already shopped for the week and accounted for every bit of food in the house.  There was nothing to eat, unless we decided to have cold cereal and maybe a peanut butter sandwich.

Which would have worked, had I not seen an ad for hummus and, from my half reclined position of sloth on the left end of the couch, murmered, ‘mmm…hummus…’

We looked at each other. Hummus is real food.  Hummus is GOOD food.

“… I could run to the store if we needed to…”

“…we could just have it on hand and nibble as we like.. between naps…”

So, it was decided – a container of garlic hummus, some pita bread, and assorted veggies – broccoli, cauliflower, some carrots, zucchini and radishes we had in the fridge.  Nothing ‘junk food’, and nothing more difficult than chopping to do.  We ate an enormous amount of veggies throughout the night while catching up on his DVR stash of ‘Fringe’ episodes and sipping a nice Shiraz.

Easy peasy and good!

(linked to Midnight Mania Meatless Mondays)


A Simple Woman’s Daybook Entry

11 Oct


Outside my window… there is a beagle chasing squirrels.
I am thinking… how pleasant it is to spend a day doing nothing but relaxing with the man I love.
I am thankful for… my children, my grandchildren, my friends and loved ones and for having reached an age where the people I spend time with are people I enjoy spending time with.
From the kitchen… there are trays of veggies, pickles and olives, cheese and hummus and pita to nibble on in lieu of any meal that takes actual effort to prepare.
I am wearing... A t-shirt with the Wicked Witch of the East’s foot in striped socks and ruby slipper that say’s “If the shoe fits” and plaid PJ bottoms that do not in any way match.


I am creating… a cross stitch Christmas ornament with a quilt motif.
I am going… to all sorts of places later in the week – to a play, to see Craig Ferguson, to a block party, to church…  But today, I’m happily going nowhere.
I am reading..,. The Time Traveler’s Wife.
I am hoping… this week moves slowly, but this next year flies by.
I am hearing... a song being played on a music box.
Around the house… a whole lot of books – we’ve been talking about the need to turn one of the spare rooms into a library once we add my books to his next summer.
One of my favorite things… almost anything purple.
A few plans for the rest of the week:  That’d be all those places we’re going.  I’m very excited about them all, so not to regard this as a heirarchy, but my heart is especially warmed by the block party – the neighborhood does this a couple times a year and it makes me so happy to know that these people are my neighbors.  Very friendly bunch that never fails to look out for each other and help one another out.
Here is picture for thought I am sharing

Michael and I at the MD Ren Faire on Saturday.  Great fun… not so great food.  But there was mead!  That was more fun than I’ve had in a long time.

(posted at The Simple Woman’s Daybook)

Hoooo Am I?

5 Oct


1.  If you could add one room to our house, what would it be?

The room I lost when I moved to this house – a craft room!  Somewhere where all my supplies can be easily accessed, with good lighting a large roomy work table.  I do a lot less now, in part because it’s such a pain to get to what I need.
2. How many pillows do you sleep with at night?
A bunch – I think there are currently 4 regular pillows, 1 memory foam pillow, and 1 body pillow.
3. What is the best costume you’ve ever worn for Halloween?
Glinda the Good, the MGM version – big floofy hair, a very tall translucent and glittered crown, a large disgustingly sweet pink dress… I spent the night making my voice sound like hers and annoying everyone.
4. If you could erase one item off the face of the earth, what would it be?
Um…. er….  Beavis and Butthead reruns?
5. Where do you do your best thinking?
In my thinking chair!  Where I sit and think…think…think…

Tarot Tuesday – Looking at the Halloween Tarot

5 Oct

Now that October is here, I’ve pulled out a couple of my favorite creepy, spooky, and altogether spooky Tarot decks -I keep a small basket near my chair with a couple decks on hand, and like to switch them up.

Today, I thought I’d show a few cards from the Halloween Tarot (Kipling West, US Games).  This is a really fun Halloween themed version of the Rider Waite Smith Tarot – one of the major systems of Tarot developed in the early 20th Century.  A whole lot of decks base their symbolism off the RWS and its my preferred method because the minors are pictoral rather than abstact.

In the Halloween Tarot, there is some switch up in the elements… Pentacles (Earth) become Pumpkins.  Airy Swords turn into Bats.  Watery Cups become Ghosts.  And Wands (Fire) are mischievous Imps.

This deck works for me on many levels – first, it reads really well – it’s not just a cute deck.. the RWS connects are there with some fun original twists that make it a good reading deck and not just a novelty.

But the fun factor is really there, making this a great deck to take to a Halloween party or other settings where people might be seasonally curious about Tarot readings, but nervous about the more serious decks.

This makes it also a good version if the deck is going to be used with children* who have expressed interest – Tarot can be a fun way to engage in storytelling, or to help a child express themselves about what’s happening in their lives. For younger children, there is a black cat that appears somewhere on each card, mainly observing each scene, but sometimes an important part of it.   Overall, this deck is child-friendly while still remaining meaningful.

*Due to the need to be sensitive to parental wishes, I think it’s never a good idea to present Tarot to kids unless they’re your own or parents who have given permission to do so – sadly, Hollywood and other representations by people who don’t understand Tarot have lead some to fear this little pack of cards or to implant connections to the adversary deity of their own religion – there’s no need to debate it – when it comes to other people’s kids, respect the parents, period.)

So… here’s a look a few of the cards – I’m going to show them side by side with the Universal RWS cards, to give an idea of the similarities and differences.

First let’s look at a card from the Major Arcana – these are the cards that show the Big Stuff… life lessons to be learned, universal themes being experienced. When you brush against an event or period of time represented by a Major Arcana card, your life is altered.

At random, the I drew VIII Strength:

Each of these cards depict a young woman and a lion – the woman is opening up the lion’s mouth, which the lion calmly allows.  I like this depiction of Strength as something other than brute force… she is not overpowering the lion… she is coaxing him – facing the lion with confidence and, as I see it, compassion.

In the RWS, this is a very pastoral setting, and seems to be gentling and controlling the lion (animal nature, wildness, natural instinct) and possibly using her hands to close its mouth – one of those things that are up to interpretation depending on the specific reading.  Over here head is an eternity symbol… we see that sideways figure eight on the Magician card as well – this type of strength is linked to divinity and something sacred.

In the Halloween Tarot, the setting for this connection between woman and lion is a circus – the lion sits on a pedestal holding his mouth open, while the woman looks inside with a tongue depressor.  Here’s she is not just controlling the lion .. she is looking at the state of his health.  The eternity symbol is on the tent material behind her so that one appears over her head.  I like very much what this card does to the concept of Strength… it speaks of not simply controlling one’s animal nature, but of keeping it healthy – not squashing out our instincts and urges, but making sure they are expressed in a healthy and stable way.

On the other hand,  I am not thrilled with this lion being in a circus setting… tamed, and expected to perform on cue.   But, that’s how it is with Tarot – sometimes creator’s interpretations work for you, sometimes they don’t.

Next, let’s look at the Minor Arcana – this section of a Tarot deck is broken up into two sections, the ‘pips’ or numbered cards, and the Court cards which depict various types of people.

In RWS style decks, the pips are not only markers showing the number of items (think about a standard playing card deck) but also shows an image describing what that card means (to AE Waite, that is) – because of the popularity of the RWS deck and its clones, these meanings have become standard, but it is helpful to remember that readers may not be reading with a RWS deck – and that intuition and personal experience comes into play, which is why they’re reading Tarot and not a book about Tarot.

Pips describe situations and events that cross our path – they may not be the Life Lesson stuff of the Major Arcana, but they are felt strongly on a daily basis.. this is where we live.  That flooded basement may not change your life the way the economy does, but of the two, the flooded basement is the one most likely to cause a sudden outburst of cursing – minor arcana cards are like that… possibly less important, but generally a lot more urgent.

Anyway, back to the Halloween Tarot – at random, I drew the Two of Bats:

Here we see a woman in white seated on a stone bench at night, in front of a body of water – in both cases, there are small bits of land nearby and a mountainous landmass in the distance.  A waxing crescent moon hangs in the sky – this has to do with something new that is just starting to develop.  In each case, the woman is blindfolded, arms crossed in front of her chest.

In the Halloween Tarot, the woman is not holding swords in her arms… rather, there are a pair of bats hovering at each shoulder.  She has wings, like an angel or – it seems to me – like an angel statue. In any event, the wings speak to the qualities of air, the element of this suit.  Air involves all things mental – communication, ideas, debates, thoughts and beliefs.

The Two of Swords – or Bats – for me generally has to do with a decision being weighed objectively.  The woman has turned herself away from the emotional waters behind her, she’s crossed her arms over her heart – both to protect it and perhaps to ‘cross her heart’ and be true in her decisionmaking.  She is blindfolded, perhaps to shut out irrelevent information….perhaps because she’s missing information she needs to move beyond this point and decide, already.   Sometimes, this card represents an impasse, where no decision can be made as the options are two evenly weighted – something needs to change to tip the decision one way or another.

The last card I’m going to draw will be a Court Card. In Tarot, these are cards that have to do with people, types of people, personalities and traits.

The card I’ve drawn is the Page of Ghosts (Cups):

There are again a lot of similaries here – in both cases, the page is a young man holding up a cup that has a fish inside that appears to be having a conversation with the boy.  The biggest differences I see are the dress – although they each are ‘dressed up’… the Page of Ghosts is dressed AS a Ghost, getting right inside his element.. the Page of Cups is in a foppish outfit all pink and blue and very pretty rather than practical.   They are each standing in front of a rolling body of water, althrough the time of day is different – daylight for the Page of Cups, night at the full moon for the Page of Ghosts.

One additions (other than the cat and ghost) I see in the Page of Ghosts is the sealed envelope on the ground.  It highlights, I think, one of the qualities of the Page of Cups – he is all about romance and romantic messages.

That’s what pages do – they are the carriers of messages regarding their element.  The watery element can be very fanciful, imaginative and yes, romantic.   This Page lives comfortably in the world of fantasy – talking to a fish, for goodness sake!

I tend to always see Pages as younger in spirit if not by age, immature and still learning about their element – this page is not a ‘player’ but an innocent… he isn’t always all that tuned into the reality of a situation, so he can get his (or her) heart broken, and break a few hearts too, though never intentionally.

That person you know that falls in love – really, truly, madly, deeply – to a new person every few weeks?  Who has planned out their wedding to the smallest detail (which definitely includes doves doing aerial ballet on demand, and swans wandering the grounds decoratively) but hasn’t yet chosen a partner or given a moment’s thought to what happens after… that’s a Page of Cups.

The Page of Ghosts shows the ‘let’s play dress up’ quality of this type of person.  I have a soft spot for the Page’s simple innocence and ability to dive into their own imagination.  Sure, there are some things still needing to be learned, but that sense of fun and possiblity is something these type of people should always strive to hold onto.

So… that’s my look at the Halloween Tarot.  Do you use this deck? How do you like it?

Apples to Apples

2 Oct

In order to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first create the universe. ~ Carl Sagan

There’s something about this time of year that really brings out the urge to make homemade foods for me – to get very close to primary source… few ingredients, as directly connected to the Earth as is possible.

I went rather mad for Farmer’s Market apples this year – the market in our area (northern WV) is pretty small compared to those I’ve gone to in other parts of the country, but still… it’s ours and I try to get out every week and no matter how sparse the pickings are, there are always plenty of wonderful, tart crisp apples to be had.

One small problem with the apples though – I love them.  They taste and smell and look like Autumn to me. They are the fruit sacred to my patron goddess, Juno (for all manner of reasons I might explain some day).

But, even before my older daughter and her family moved out at the end of summer, I was the only one who actually likes apples.  So for the most part, there isn’t a lot of use in making large quantity treats like apple pie – I’m just not going to get through it all.

That doesn’t mean I haven’t been enjoying some wonderful baked apples (easy to do with a single apple), some homemade applesauce which freezes nicely in small portions for later use, sliced thin to eat on a peanut butter sandwich… and finally, when I’ve eaten and cooked as many of them as I can, using them as decoration.

I enjoy making dried apple slices by slicing them horizonally to reveal the star inside – those are wonderful dried slowly in the oven and stringing along with cinnamon sticks for garland.  That whole process makes the house smell like heaven, too.

Still no camera or I’d show you this year’s garland – I just took down last years from its hanging spot over the window behind the kitchen sink and replaced it with a new one.  If you do this, it’s a really good idea to punch a hole in the apple slices before you start drying them (I just spread them on a cookie sheet and leave them for many hours in the oven set at about 200F), and it’s nice to sprinkle a little bit of cinnamon on them too – go easy or they’ll be dark brown instead of a pretty golden beige when they’re dried.

Simple and if you don’t want to create a garland you can use the dried slices for individual ornaments, tying them off with a bundle of cinnamon sticks or a small string of cranberries, wrapped around a small broom or in the arms of a corn dolly – something natural and as simple as the apples.

I am told that it is a Cornwall tradition to eat an apple on Samhain for luck – and that seems like a good tradition and couldn’t we all use some luck?  As I said, I associate apples with Juno/Hera – the Mother aspects of the Goddess, as that is her role once you move away from stories that only regard her in relationship to her husband..she protected marriage, and women, and young girls and in some aspects oversaw safe childbirth.  Apples, with their star at the center seem to me  – and this is only my personal association – with divinity that hides within a simple, everyday exterior – the sacred within the domestic.

Apples – they’re wholesome, not exotic food.  What’s the phrase we have here in the US? “As American as apple pie” – because you don’t have to be wealthy or special to get ahold of an apple.  Johnny Appleseed worked his way west, planting apples.. bringing ‘normalcy’ and civilized life with him as he went.  An older phrase would speak of apple-cheeked girls – and those weren’t the exotic seductive women… they were the girl next door, flushed and cheerful and healthy and simple.

So, it’s no big deal to be an apple, right?  Pretty much no matter where you are, local produce will include apples.  But examine that apple just the right way – cut it horizontally instead of vertically, and the seeds reveal a star ringed by the edges of the core .. a pentacle.  Now maybe that’s meaningful to you and maybe not – to me it speaks of the sacred hiding in the mundane.  And because I almost always see through the filter of Tarot, it speaks of the earthy quality of pentacles…and the hopeful, faithful wisdom of the Star.

For me, apples are a powerful symbol of the connectedness of the daily world with the divine.  It’s something I like to remember when I’m feeling too small to matter or too puffed up with self importance… that we’re all one, that hidden inside everyone is that spark of the sacred, no matter how ordinary things look on the outside.  I’m no more special than anyone else… but I’m no less special, either.

I keep my garland reminder hanging over the kitchen window, where I do my dishes every time I turn around, it seems.. remembering that even doing dishes is a sacred act when you remember the spark hiding down inside as you work, the act of cleaning one of making the world a brighter place… if that’s not sacred, generative work, I don’t know what is.

Just a bit of late night musing… started out with just the intention to share that chunky applesauce recipe.  Ah well… another time!

(image: Apple slices from iFood)