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Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Your Never Too Old...

...for your first dollhouse!  I'm sure every little girl dreams of a dollhouse when she is young. I know I did.  The other day I was looking in the antique section on Craigslist, not planning on buying anything just window shopping. When I saw this ad, my heart did a little flipflop, the dollhouse of my dreams was just down the road! I always loved the Waltons show and this house reminded me of theirs. I had to have it!

 I took these pictures at night with some small fairy lights to light up the rooms. Not my best work in photography but I will do a proper set of this house one when I am more settled and have somewhere with better light.
  All the furniture that came with it is antique style and all the drawers etc work, very nice craftsmanship

I already want to add extensions onto the house and collect or make more furniture.

 I was really inspired by this artists ability to make a dollhouse of Sandy's gorgeous Streamside Studio.

Check out the post of how she did it. Sandy has created the most beautiful little cottage ever and this dollhouse is a perfect replica of it. I wanted to do one too, but now I have a headstart. I can decorate mine however I want . Maybe someday I'll be ambitious enough to try and recreate my own home. Until then I'll have fun pretending I'm visiting the Waltons ( and helping them redecorate!)

Linking to Cindy's Show and Tell Friday

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Winter Solstice - Yule - Christmas

December 21/22: The day of the long night for those of us who live north of the equatorial zones . This day has the 24-hour period with the most hours of darkness. On this ultimate day of rest, even the mighty Sun stands momentarily still in the sky.The word solstice literally means "sun standing still." At the moment of the winter solstice, the path of the sun in the sky over the past six months has reached its furthest southern position and now turns northward.

Festivals, rituals and celebrations appear throughout human cultures, beginning at least in the Neolithic Period of 10,000 years ago. We all have heard of Stonehenge and its function as a megalithic solar observatory. We now know that it has a contemporary counterpart in Ireland called Newgrange, which is estimated to be 5000 years old. Newgrange is also a solar observatory designed to funnel a shaft of sunlight deep into its central chamber at dawn on the day of the Winter Solstice.

The best known celebration/festival during late December is Christmas, but it is a recent festival added to the list. Its date was set by the Roman Emperor during the Fourth Century to coincide with pagan rituals and celebrations surrounding the Winter Solstice. There are great similarities to the "Birth of the Son" and the "Rebirth of the Sun" beyond the obvious similarity of words.

Festivals of the Winter Solstice have ancient origins. The ancient Egyptians, Babylonians and Persians had renewal festivals during this period, as did the Romans and other European cultures: the Roman Saturnalia, the Norse and Germanic Yule and the Celtic festivals. Winter Solstice festivals were not limited to Europe either. Among these are the Pakistani Chaomas, the Tibetan Dosmoche, the Chinese Dong Zhi and the Japanese Hari Kuyo. Native North Americans also held solstice rituals. These all predate the introduction of Christianity to their region and many of these rituals and festivals were later incorporated into Christmas observances such as mistletoe and holly. In some traditions of Wicca and Paganism, the Yule celebration comes from the Celtic legend of the battle between the young Oak King and the Holly King. The Oak King, representing the light of the new year, tries each year to usurp the old Holly King, who is the symbol of darkness. Re-enactment of the battle is popular in some Wiccan rituals.

At the root of all these celebrations and rituals is the battle between Light and Dark. The battle reaches a turning point on the Winter Solstice as the advances of Darkness are halted and the tide turns for the forces of Light. Light returns to drive the gloom away and to raise our spirits. As a festival of the Sun, the most important part of any Yule celebration is light,candles,and bonfires.

This year's winter solstice  (2010) — will coincide with a full lunar eclipse in a union that hasn't been seen in 456 years. The celestial eccentricity holds special significance.

"It's a ritual of transformation from darkness into light," says Nicole Cooper, a high priestess at Toronto's Wiccan Church of Canada. "It's the idea that when things seem really bleak, (it) is often our biggest opportunity for personal transformation."The idea that the sun and the moon are almost at their darkest at this point in time really only further goes to hammer that home."Cooper said Wiccans also see great significance in the unique coupling of the masculine energy of the sun and the feminine energy of the moon.

The last time the two celestial events happened at the same time was in AD 1554, according to NASA. An otherwise seemingly unexceptionable year in recorded history, the darkened moon happened during a bleak year for Tudor England. Lady Jane Grey was beheaded for treason that year, while Princess Elizabeth was imprisoned in the Tower of London. Mary of Guise — the mother of Mary, Queen of Scots — became regent of Scotland.

The eclipse will start just after midnight Eastern Time on Tuesday, with the main event starting at 1:30 a.m. ET and lasting until 5:30 a.m., when the moon reappears.

Yule, (pronounced EWE-elle) is when the dark half of the year relinquishes to the light half. Starting the next morning at sunrise, the sun climbs just a little higher and stays a little longer in the sky each day. Known as Solstice Night, or the longest night of the year, much celebration was to be had as the ancestors awaited the rebirth of the Oak King, the Sun King, the Giver of Life that warmed the frozen Earth and made her to bear forth from seeds protected through the fall and winter in her womb. Bonfires were lit in the fields, and crops and trees were "wassailed" with toasts of spiced cider.

Children were escorted from house to house with gifts of clove spiked apples and oranges which were laid in baskets of evergreen boughs and wheat stalks dusted with flour. The apples and oranges represented the sun, the boughs were symbolic of immortality, the wheat stalks portrayed the harvest, and the flour was accomplishment of triumph, light, and life. Holly, mistletoe, and ivy not only decorated the outside, but also the inside of homes. It was to extend invitation to Nature Sprites to come and join the celebration. A sprig of Holly was kept near the door all year long as a constant invitation for good fortune to pay visit to the residents.

The ceremonial Yule log was the highlight of the festival. In accordance to tradition, the log must either have been harvested from the householder's land, or given as a gift... it must never have been bought. Once dragged into the house and placed in the fireplace it was decorated in seasonal greenery, doused with cider or ale, and dusted with flour before set ablaze be a piece of last years log, (held onto for just this purpose). The log would burn throughout the night, then smolder for 12 days after before being ceremonially put out. Ash is the traditional wood of the Yule log. It is the sacred world tree of the Teutons, known as Yggdrasil. An herb of the Sun, Ash brings light into the hearth at the Solstice.

A different type of Yule log, and perhaps one more suitable for modern practitioners would be the type that is used as a base to hold three candles. Find a smaller branch of oak or pine, and flatten one side so it sets upright. Drill three holes in the top side to hold red, green, and white (season), green, gold, and black (the Sun God), or white, red, and black (the Great Goddess). Continue to decorate with greenery, red and gold bows, rosebuds, cloves, and dust with flour.

Candles are used during this celebration as symbols of the Sun's light and of the new year. Electric lights only became popular in the early 20th century as a substitute for candles. You will see the theme of the returning light in the way Christians hang Christmas lights and put a star at the top of their trees. Decorating the tree with light is believed to have originated in Germany and Scandinavia. Families would bring a "live" tree into the home so the wood spirits would have a warm place to live during the cold winter months. Bells were hung on the limbs of the tree so you could "hear" when a spirit was present, food and treats were left on the branches so the spirit could eat, and a five-pointed star -- the pentagram -- was placed at the top of the tree.

The German Martin Luther is credited as the first person to decorate his tree with candles. After seeing how beautiful the stars were at night, he wanted to recreate the image for his children.
"Christmas" trees were introduced to the court of Queen Victoria by her husband, Prince Albert. Although it was the custom to decorate live evergreen trees in honor of the Gods, our modern practice of cutting down a tree to bring indoors is a blasphemous desecration of the original concept. The evergreen is one of few plants to remain green even in winter and it is a symbol of life during the season of death. Decorating these trees and branches is a way of celebrating life. They are adorned with lights to encourage and honor the Sun, tinsel to encourage the melting of the snow, and the fruits of the harvest to give thanks and to ensure a bounty for the next planting season.

The low point on the "Wheel of the Year," Yule is associated with the birth of the Divine King, the Sun god. Although he is still young and weak, the days are getting longer as his light begins to grow. Earth is in darkness and the Goddess is sleeping (some say). The God who died at the harvest festival of Lammas -- cut down with the grain -- has spent this time traveling in the underworld and is now reborn. Which brings us to the battle between the Oak King, representing the waxing year, and the Holly King, who represents the waning year. The Oak King, The Child of Promise, comes from the union, the love and the creative forces of the God and Goddess and is considered to be the creative principle of the universe -- the mighty one who conquers darkness and brings light to the world. He is virile, fertile and a creative force who plants seeds that will bring new life, thus ensuring its continuation. He is the lord of nature and of the forest and he reminds us of our connection to every living thing.

The Holly King, the God of death and the underworld, is he who conquers light and brings rest and rebirth to the world. He is the other half of the eternal struggle between dark and light (not good and evil). He is the God who gathers souls to him to help prepare them for rebirth, even as he dies and is reborn. He is a healer who can comfort us in times of sorrow and loss because he has walked that path before us. He is a god of judgment, retribution and balance, the keeper of the laws.

At Midsummer, as the year begins its turn toward the dark again, Holly is victorious, but at Midwinter, the Oak King defeats the forces of darkness, revealing himself as a vegetation god who must die each year so that life can be renewed.

Decorated trees, lights, wreaths on the door -- these are symbols of the season. Many of these symbols originated as many as 5,000 years ago. They represent reasons for celebration in the Christmas tradition and the earlier pagan rites: rebirth and everlasting life told in the stories of the birth, death and resurrection of Hercules, Dionysus, Mithra, Horus, Jesus, Arthur and many others.

Holly and ivy are also Yule symbols. Their origins are ancient. Romans used holly during the Winter Solstice, known to them as the Saturnalia. Gifts of holly were exchanged. Holly was believed to ward off lightning and evil spirits. It was also seen as a symbol of the masculine, ivy the symbol of the feminine. The custom of decorating the doorway with the two plants intertwined represented a symbolic union of the two halves of divinity.

Celtic people believed that mistletoe was a strong charm against lightning, thunder and evil. Druids harvested the plant from sacred oak trees five days after the New Moon following the Winter Solstice. Norse people also considered the plant sacred. Warriors who met under the mistletoe would not fight, but maintained a truce until the next day. Other cultures considered mistletoe to be aphrodisiac, thus came the custom of "kissing under the mistletoe."

Giving gifts at Yule is another old symbol.The tradition of Christmas gift-giving is a mystery. Many believe the ritual to have descended from the ancient Roman Saturnalia festival. Saturnalia (named for Saturn, the Roman God of sowing) was observed from roughly December 17 through December 25. Its purpose? To see out the old year and safeguard the health of the crops sown in winter. For the populace of Rome, it was also a time of feasting and gift-giving. The citizens exchanged "strenae" -- boughs of laurel and evergreen that brought good luck -- and the children received "sigillaria," small clay dolls which were purchased at a special fair held during the week of Saturnalia. Gifts of homemade pastries and sweets would be exchanged and those of higher rank might make presents of jewelry or pieces of gold and silver.

Christian tradition equates the giving of gifts to the Magi who visited the Christ child shortly after his birth, bringing gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh to the Savior.

And last, but not least, we have our modern Santa Claus. Santa is a combination of several figures -- St. Nick from Holland, Father Christmas from England, Kris Kringle from Germany and Father Winter from Russia, among others. These figures all have pagan roots. Norse and Germanic peoples tell stories of the Yule Elf, who brings presents on the Solstice to those who leave offerings of porridge. Odin is a Norse god also identified with the character of Santa. One of his titles was Jolnir, "Lord of the Yule," and he bears a resemblance to Santa.

Symbolism of Yule:
Rebirth of the Sun, The longest night of the year, The Winter Solstice, Introspect, Planning for the Future.

Symbols of Yule:
Yule log, or small Yule log with 3 candles, evergreen boughs or wreaths, holly, mistletoe hung in doorways, gold pillar candles, baskets of clove studded fruit, a simmering pot of wassail, poinsettias, christmas cactus.

Herbs of Yule:
Bayberry, blessed thistle, evergreen, frankincense holly, laurel, mistletoe, oak, pine, sage, yellow cedar.

Foods of Yule:
Cookies and caraway cakes soaked in cider, fruits, nuts, pork dishes, turkey, eggnog, ginger tea, spiced cider, wassail, or lamb's wool (ale, sugar, nutmeg, roasted apples).

Incense of Yule:
Pine, cedar, bayberry, cinnamon.
Colors of Yule:
Red, green, gold, white, silver, yellow, orange.

Stones of Yule:
Rubies, bloodstones, garnets, emeralds, diamonds.

Activities of Yule:
Caroling, wassailing the trees, burning the Yule log, decorating the Yule tree, exchanging of presents, kissing under the mistletoe, honoring Kriss Kringle the Germanic Pagan God of Yule

Spellworkings of Yule:
Peace, harmony, love, and increased happiness.

Wassail Recipe
Wassail was originally a word that meant to greet or salute someone -- groups would go out wassailing on cold evenings, and when they approached a door would be offered a mug of warm cider or ale. Over the years, the tradition evolved to include mixing eggs with alcohol and asperging the crops to ensure fertility. While this recipe doesn't include eggs, it sure is good, and it makes your house smell beautiful for Yule!

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 3 hours, 00 minute


•1 Gallon apple cider

•2 C. cranberry juice

•1/2 C honey

•1/2 C sugar

•2 oranges

•Whole cloves

•1 apple, peeled and diced




•3 cinnamon sticks (or 3 Tbs. ground cinnamon)

•1/2 C - 1 C brandy (optional)


Set your crockpot to its lower setting, and pour apple cider, cranberry juice, honey and sugar in, mixing carefully. As it heats up, stir so that the honey and sugar dissolve. Stud the oranges with the cloves, and place in the pot (they'll float). Add the diced apple. Add allspice, ginger and nutmeg to taste -- usually a couple of tablespoons of each is plenty. Finally, snap the cinnamon sticks in half and add those as well.
Cover your pot and allow to simmer 2 - 4 hours on low heat. About half an hour prior to serving, add the brandy if you choose to use it.

One year I decided to have a solstice tree as opposed to a Christmas Tree. I asked everyone who came to my solstice party to bring something natural to decorate the tree with. It turned out to be the most beautiful tree I have ever seen. Some of the decorations included:
- dehydrated slices of fruit such as blood oranges, lemons, limes, pears and apples which were hung in front of lights on the tree to give a look of stained glass ornaments
- strings of cranberries and popcorn wrapped around the tree
- pinecones decorated with beads and glitter
- leaves that had been treated so that just the veins remained and spray painted gold ( here is a recipe to make leaf skeletons)
- feathers
- the top of the tree was decorated with a stained glass eagle

An activity I had each guest do  that night,was to make a doll. I used dried poppy seed heads on stalks for the head and body. A wooden skewer was lashed across the middle to make the arms. I had strips of fabric precut and my guests used markers to write on them things they wished to let go of in the new year. They then dipped the fabric strips in melted wax  and draped them over the stick figures to create their poppets/dolls( make sure to use a double boiler affair to melt the wax and keep it melted through the night. Wax is highly flammable and will ignite over direct heat, use a water bath under the container with the wax!)
 It was highly entertaining to see everyones individual creations. We saved them until New Years Eve when we set them in the ground outside and burned them to release our wishes to the universe. Because of the wax, they burn long and bright. Be careful doing this, make sure they are far from the house and anything flammable as they are hard to put out.

You  can see there are many ways to celebrate Yule and many symbols of this holiday. However you celebrate, I wish you a Blessed Yule, a Happy Solstice and a Merry Christmas.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Thrifty Sunday November 28 2010

When I'm not busy doing renos, I'm online looking for materials and furnishings to complete my dream home. Here are some more of my recent treasures.

My home has two large sliding barn-like doors, one on each side of the building. This place was originally a workshop for building kayaks so the large entrances came in handy. I am constantly looking for ways to bring in more light to the place, so was thrilled to find these French doors to replace one of the sliders. Sadly like all the windows in my place they are single pane glass ( not great when it gets really cold out ). I am going to look for glass to put over one side with trim to hold it in place. Not really double pane windows but it should provide some better protection against the wind. I can also seal the inside windows with plastic to create another barrier. These won't be getting installed until the summer as it will result in a large gaping hole in the wall which will need to be framed in first.

 I leaned them up in front of the slider to see what the house will look like when they are installed
 I picked up this lovely small display cabinet which will save me some shelf building
 A close up of the trim on the cabinet
 On my way to pick up the cabinet, I was waylaid by the Value Village in Coquitlam where I hardly ever get too, so took a detour into the place. For some reason I got focused on the linen section and came up with a couple of table settings that will look awesome with my Christmas decor and favorite dishes. The colours aren't looking quite as good on here as they do in real life, but they are actually quite a nice match. I got four of the gold runners which I would place across the table and use as placemats. I found 8 old fashioned yellow embroidered napkins to go with it.

I also got this lovely sage green tablecloth which looks great with the gold runners as well
 I also got this burgendy tablecloth with these green and pink napkins to use with my pink dish set.
 I found 12 of these cute Christams tree name tag holders for the table
 This cute sleigh made of metal
 A cute flower vase made of metal as well
 and this really cute lantern which is going to go by my bathtub
 This green teapot seems to be the same colour as alot of other green things Ive found lately. I love it, it is such a  soft and delicate colour
 I found this funky sea serpent hook which I am going to use to hang.....
 this asian styled set of chimes
 I was so excited when I found this for only 6 dollars. It's a kit of balsa wood houses that you build and decorate. I can create my own village scene
It's a shame that most of this stuff probably won't get used this year as I don't have my reno's far enough along to hold Christmas here. It still feels good to know that I am ready for it though. Next year should see me with a kitchen and living room where I can finally entertain and decorate. I can't wait for those days!

I am linking to Cindy's Show and Tell Friday

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Just Hanging Around

A combination of trauma, bad posture, wear and tear and bad life-style choices such as smoking have left me with deteriorating discs in my neck. They had the audacity to bulge out into my spinal canal and put pressure on the nerves to my arm, three times in the last year. The first two times, it lasted 6 weeks and was the most excrutiating pain I could imagine. Somewhat like getting tasered in the arm, I'm thinking, but non-stop. I tried alot of modalities to ease the pain or correct the situation. Other than medicating myself to the eyeballs with Demerol and strong anti- inflammatories, I wasn't having much luck. The third time it happened, I managed to get in to see my physio. He had a neck traction device for sale which I bought and used at home. It really helped alot, but I found it a bit uncomfortable having my neck yanked upwards like that

Cervical Traction Device

Hang -up Inversion Table

 I had heard of inversion tables before but couldn't afford one at over three hundred dollars. Today was my very lucky day. I found one in the free section of craigslist. The guy said, basically, whoever gets to my house first,..gets it. There were other people on their way already apparently. I threw on some clothes and raced out the door and was at his place in a few minutes. Lucky for me , I got there first and am the proud new owner of a Hang-up inversion table. They provide total traction for the back and neck and can be used to do some exercises as well. I will get alot of use from this and am so grateful to the universe for providing once again.

As I was trying to figure out how to put it together and use it, I looked online and found a bunch of how-to videos showing various exercises and how to use it, so thought I would post them all here so I could find them again. If you have any kind of back pain especially with nerve impingment, I highly recommend one of these units.
How to Set Up an Inversion Table Workout -- powered by
Decompressing the Spine with an Inversion Table Workout -- powered by
How to Get On an Inversion Table -- powered by
How to Do Spinal Extensions with Inversion Table -- powered by
How to Do Intermittent Stretching with Inversion Table -- powered by
Advanced Set Up of an Inversion Table -- powered by
How to Do a Full Inversion on an Inversion Table -- powered by
How to Do an Abdominal Workout on an Inversion Table -- powered by
How to Do an Oblique Workout on an Inversion Table -- powered by
How to Exercise the Lumbar Spine on an Inversion Table -- powered by
How to Do Side Bends on an Inversion Table -- powered by
How to Do Parallel Relaxation on an Inversion Table -- powered by
How to Work Out with Weights on an Inversion Table -- powered by
How to Come Back Up on an Inversion Table -- powered by
How to Break Down an Inversion Table -- powered by

I'm going to go and hang out for awhile, see you later!

I am linking to Cindy's Show and Tell Friday

Friday, October 22, 2010

Samhain/Halloween/All Saints

The Festival of Samhain marks the ending and beginning of the Celtic Year. Samhain (pronounced "Sow-in") comes from the Irish Gaelic and means "Summers End". Samhain  is held on Oct. 31st and is more commonly known as Halloween. It is a very important date as it represents a time to honor our ancestors, the end of the harvest season and the beginning of the Witches New Year. It is believed that on this day, the veil separating this world from spirit world is at its thinnest. It is on this day that we pay tribute to our dead, tie up all loose ends and reap a wonderful harvest.

  With the rise of Christianity, Samhain was changed to Hallowmas, or All Saints' Day, to commemorate the souls of the blessed dead who had been canonized that year, so the night before became popularly known as Halloween, All Hallows Eve, or Hollantide. November 2nd became All Souls Day, when prayers were to be offered to the souls of all who were departed and those who were waiting in Purgatory for entry into Heaven.

Samhain was an important agricultural observance. It was when the final harvest was taken and the folk were now dependent on stored food, hunting and slaughtering of animals for survival. Herds were culled to eliminate the weak and unnecessary and to ensure that the limited amount of food would go around for the next six months. In this aspect, Samhain is a holiday of plenty and feasting, laying in a layer of fat before the winter, and gathering together for safety and protection. Samhain is the time when we connect with the vital forces of nature and make ourselves ready for the long descent into winter

Samhain is also a time when the veil separating our world, the mortal realm, and the world of the Gods and spirits becomes thin. As such, it is a good time to commune with the recently departed before they continue their journey from death to the "Summerland" - the realm of the Gods. There they can enjoy an eternal paradise of feasting, joy and plenty, until they are ready to cross back over to our realm and become incarnate beings again.

In the past...Death was never very far away, yet to die was not the tragedy it is in modern times. What was of great importance to these people was to die with honour and to live in the memory of the clan and be honoured at the great feast Fleadh nan Mairbh (Feast of the Dead) which took place on Samhain Eve. (S. McSkimming,)

Samhain, as the beginning and ending of the yearly cycle, can be viewed as any other "New Years" celebration.. It is a time to reflect on that which we've brought into our lives, and that which we need for the times to come. Connecting with our roots and examining the directions we need to grow. We feast with the ancestors and ensure the continuing vitality of our people, be it ourselves, our family or the community in which we dwell. Death doesn't necessarily mean physical death (though it can mean that), but more productively, it can be seen as an inevitable heavy change or transformation. Something old must be gotten rid of to make room for something new to be able to come in. Use the magic of this time to say good-bye to an old habit or addiction, an old relationship, or anything else it is time to leave behind.

Some Rituals and Rites to Celebrate Samhain

Decorate your home and/or alter with the colors black and orange. Black represents the death of the Sun God and orange represents the Sun God's rebirth. Also use seasonal fruits and vegetables such as pumpkins, squash, apples and pomegranates. Another decorating idea is the use of decorative skulls and gravestone rubbings (putting a piece of paper up against a grave marker and gently rubbing coal, pencil or crayon across the paper until an impression of the stone is left on the paper).

Place candles in the window to help guide the spirit travelers.Samhain is a time to remember those who have been lost over the past year and to acknowledge that they are still with us in spirit. Light a candle and place it in a window (one that is free of drapes, curtains or other flammable materials) to help light the way for the spirits of those who have passed away.

Place cider, fruit and cookies outside for your ancestors to enjoy while on their ghostly travels.Most of us only think to leave plates of food out at night when we are expecting someone jolly and bearing gifts, but the tradition is really rooted in Wiccan tradition intended to honor the dead and help them depart the land of the living peacefully. Leave a plate of food in the window where you place your candle and think of any loved ones you have lost over the past year as you do so. Choose foods of the season or, if you are making the offering in remembrance of a specific loved one, leave foods that were their favorites.

Have a harvest feast and give thanks for the plentiful crops. Giving thanks will ensure that next year's crops will be just as plentiful.

Because this is a time of endings or starting over, take a piece of paper and write down a character trait or bad habit that you would like to change. Light the paper on fire and place it in a fireproof bowl.

Since this is a harvest festival, collect food to donate to a food bank so that everyone can enjoy the benefits of a "harvest"

Carve a turnip.The practice of carving hollowed-out turnips, known as “Samhnag” in Scottish Gaelic, dates back many hundreds of years. The turnips were turned into lanterns by placing a burning ember or small candle inside to commemorate the souls in purgatory. The small lanterns were also placed in windows to ward off the evil dead. The scarier the face, the more effective it was at keeping malevolent spirits away. Pumpkins were an American adaptation. The shape and colouring of turnips actually look more like a skull.
Carve a pumpkin.  Toast and eat the seeds in appreciation of the fruits of the season.

 Trick-or-treating is a customary celebration for children on Halloween. Children go in costume from house to house, asking for treats such as candy or sometimes money, with the question, "Trick or treat?" The word "trick" refers to a (mostly idle) "threat" to perform mischief on the homeowners or their property if no treat is given. In some parts of Scotland children still go guising. In this custom the child performs some sort of trick, i.e. sings a song or tells a ghost story, to earn their treats.

The practice of dressing up in costumes and begging door to door for treats on holidays dates back to the Middle Ages and includes Christmas wassailing. Trick-or-treating resembles the late medieval practice of souling, when poor folk would go door to door on Hallowmas (November 1), receiving food in return for prayers for the dead on All Souls Day (November 2). It originated in Ireland and Britain

Pick some apples. Apples are a traditional fruit of the autumn season, but they actually play key roles in multiple Samhain rituals. Make a dish with fruits of the seasons like apples or pomegranates to celebrate the bounty of the earth. Bury the seeds afterwards to usher in new growth for the next year's harvest. Cut an apple in half, place five bay leaves in the center in the shape of a star, and bind the halves back together with black or red ribbon. Bless the offering in a traditional Samhain ritual and bury it afterwards as a symbol of love for the God and Goddess.

Light a fire. Bonfires are great for keeping away the chill of a crisp early autumn evening, but they are also symbolic during Samhain. After lighting your bonfire take a moment to write down any aspect of your life that you want to get rid of; it can be a part of your personality, something that has been causing you unnecessary stress or worry or a negative situation that has left you with feelings of anger, worry or regret. Focus on why you feel you need to be rid of this thing and how doing so will better your life. Cast the paper into the bonfire and watch it burn. As you do, imagine that negative aspect disappearing with the ashes of the bonfire and let it go.

In many agricultural societies, a popular pastime at Samhain was that of divining the name of one's future lover. Some revealed a face, others an initial or even a full name. These traditional methods were practiced in rural societies for centuries. You can use them today for your own divination.

Unmarried women were told that if they sat in a darkened room and gazed into a mirror on Halloween night, the face of their future husband would appear in the mirror. However, if they were destined to die before marriage, a skull would appear. The custom was widespread enough to be commemorated on greeting cards from the late 19th century and early 20th century.

Apple Divination
Apples have always been popular tools for foretelling the future. There are a number of traditional methods in folklore for seeing who one's lover might be.

•Peel the apple, keeping the peel in one long piece. When the peel comes off, drop it on the floor. The letter it forms is the first initial of your true love's name.

•Wait until midnight at Samhain, and cut an apple into nine pieces. Take the pieces into a dark room with a mirror (either hanging on the wall or a hand-held one will do). At midnight, begin eating the pieces of apple while looking into the mirror. When you get to the ninth piece, throw it over your shoulder. The face of your lover should appear in the mirror.

•If a girl has more than one potential lover, peel an apple and pull out the seeds. Place a wet seed on your cheek for each boyfriend. The last one left stuck to the skin represents the suitor who is the true love.

Water Divination

Water has always been known for its magical properties, so it's only natural to use it for divination workings. Try one of these on Samhain night.
•At midnight on Samhain, go to a lake and gaze into the water. You should see your lover's face reflected in the lake before you.
•Fill a cauldron with water, and then light a candle. Drip the hot wax into the water, and see what shape it forms. The shape will indicate the profession of your future lover.
•Find a moving body of water like a stream or river. Select a piece of wood to represent the person you wish to be your lover, and throw it in the water. If it floats downstream, he will be true and constant. If the wood gets caught up on the bank, or sinks, your lover will be unfaithful.

Food Divination

There are a number of divinations that use foods, baking and cooking as their focus. Some of these are still practiced today.
•Scottish Bannock Divination: in Scotland and northern England, a girl would bake a bannock cake in the evening. In complete silence, she walked to her room and placed the bannock under her pillow. Her dreams that night would show her the face of her lover, and in the morning she ate the bannock.
•To find out if you'll find love in the coming twelve months, separate an egg and drop the white into a glass of water. If it sinks immediately, love is forthcoming. If it floats on the top of the water, you'll spend the next year alone.
•Take two nuts, one for yourself and one for your lover. At midnight on Samhain, place them on a grate over your fire. If they burn well, you'll have a long and happy relationship. If one nut pops or burns, it means one of you will be unfaithful

How to Perform a Samhain Ritual

Samhain marks the end of the Pagan Wheel of the Year. Celebrated on Halloween night, usually at midnight, it's not about performing evil magic or costume parties. The Samhain ritual is a time to remember the dead and to plan for the coming year. It's a time of contemplation as we move into winter.

Instructions.Things You'll Need:

2 tablespoons of sea salt

White candle

Frankincense and myrrh incense

Relaxing music

Black, orange and/or gold clothes and jewelry

Obsidian or other black stone

Apple cider with cloves and cinnamon sticks

Apples in all colors

1Spend time writing down your goals for the coming year a week or so before your Samhain ritual. Concentrate on what you truly want to achieve. Make your goals reachable but ambitious. Collect objects or draw pictures that represent your goals.

2Add 2 tablespoons of sea salt to a hot bath. Light a white candle and incense of frankincense and myrrh. Put on music that relaxes you and helps you remember the good times in the past. Meditate in the bath on the deceased relatives whom you loved and visualize yourself being cleansed by the salt water.

3Wear black, orange or gold clothes and jewelry for your Samhain ritual. Buy a black stone, preferably an obsidian stone as black as you can find, from a jewelry or gem store. Bury it somewhere a week prior to Samhain to purify it for ritual.

4Make cider with cloves and cinnamon sticks for your Samhain ritual. Pumpkin bread is a nice alternative to pumpkin pie. For an interesting combination of flavors, roast or bake red potatoes and apples side by side. Apples in all colors also make beautiful altar decorations.

5Decorate your altar with the things that represent your goals and create the magic circle. Remember those who've been a comfort to you throughout your life and wish them joy wherever they are. Then concentrate on your goals for the coming year. Write down your goals as soon after the Samhain ritual as you can.

A Day of the Dead Altar

Day of the Dead is celebrated in Mexico on November 1st and 2nd. It's a time to remember deceased loved ones and honor them. November 1st was for remembering children that had passed on, November 2nd was for remembering the adults. Day of the Dead is a festive occasion, a time to celebrate, much like a family reunion. Making a Day of the Dead altar can be a way for you to honor the life of someone who was important to you, or remember your ancestors. There are no hard and fast rules about how the altar should be made. Be creative and make something that looks attractive and is meaningful to you.

Here's How:

1.The arch

If you have long sugar cane stalks, tie one to each of the back legs of the table and join them at the top (tie them together with string or use tape). Then, if you want, you can decorate the arch, attaching flowers to it. The arch represents the passage between life and death. If you can't get sugar cane stalks, get creative and make your arch out of other materials.

2.The base

Place boxes or crates on the table where you will build your altar in such a way that they create tiers so that the elements of the altar can be displayed attractively. Put a tablecloth over the table and boxes so that the boxes are hidden. Then place papel picado (buy direct) around the edge of the table and each layer.


Place a photo of the person to whom the altar is dedicated on the top level of the altar, in the center. If the altar is dedicated to more than one person, you can have several photos, or if your altar is not dedicated to anyone in particular, the photo can be omitted and it will be understood that your altar is in honor of all your ancestors.


Place a glass of water on the altar. Water is a source of life and represents purity. It quenches the thirst of the spirits.


Candles represent light, faith and hope. The flame guides the spirits on their journey. Sometimes four or more candles are placed together to form a cross which represents the cardinal directions, so that the spirits can find their way.


You can place flowers in vases or pull the petals out and scatter them over all the surfaces of the altar. If you use cempasuchil (marigolds), the scent will be even stronger if you pull out the petals. The bright colors of the marigolds and their fragrance are synonymous with Day of the Dead. Fresh flowers remind us of the impermanence of life.

7.Fruit, bread and food

Seasonal fruits and special bread called pan de muertos are usually placed on the altar, along with other foods that the person enjoyed in life. Mexicans usually place tamales, mole and hot chocolate on the altar, but you can use whatever fruit and other food are available to you. The food is a feast that is laid for the dead to enjoy. It is believed that they consume the scents and the essence of the food.


It is customary to burn copal incense, which clears the space of any negative energy or bad spirits, and helps the dead find their way.


1.If you don't have time or the materials to make an elaborate altar, you can make a simple one with just a photo, two candles, some flowers and fruit. The important thing is that it's meaningful to you.

2.Sugar skulls are a great addition to a Day of the Dead altar. Making them can be a fun project. Learn how to make sugar skulls, or purchase some online:

3.Get ideas by looking at photos of Day of the Dead Altars.

What You Need:

•A table, shelf or flat surface on which to build your altar

•Two long sugar cane stalks (or other material) to make an arch

•Boxes or crates to create levels

•A tablecloth and papel picado

•A photo of the person to whom the altar is dedicated

•A glass of water

•Flowers, preferably marigolds

•Fruit, bread, and other foods

•Candles and incense

•Things that the person enjoyed in life

Happy Halloween,

I am linking to Cindy's Show and Tell Friday

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

How to Cure a Cold

Well it's that time of year again ( at least in the Pacific Northwest). Yup, it's cold season!

 Seems like every other person I talk to has a cold or knows someone who does.   I'm personally of the opinion that colds are good for you and serve a purpose. Now this is just my opinion and not based on any scientific knowledge that I know of.

To me a cold is natures way of cleaning house. I think it's a way to sweep out all those old cells and debris in the body, a cyclical fast where the body takes a break from a heavy diet and cleans out all the pipes.
It can also be an enforced vacation. I can be work-a-holic sometimes, so for me getting a cold is my excuse to take to my bed for a few days and just enjoy some serious downtime without feeling guilty. I can nap in the afternoon, catch up on my novel reading, stay in fuzzy jammies all day and sip warm drinks by the fireplace. I would never allow myself those luxuries if  I was feeling well.

However, not everyone wants a holiday with chest congestion and sniffles, so for the rest of you, here is the cure for the common cold. Now I have to say in warning, this only seems to work if you catch it on the first day. You know the day, you feel something is not right but the symptoms haven't hit you yet. At most you might have a funny taste in your throat.

 Do the following on that first day:

-Drink a cup or two of peppermint tea then,
-Soak in a very hot bath for 20 minutes (Do not do if you have high blood pressure, your pregnant or have metal pins, joints etc.) You can put a cold facecloth at the base of the neck to prevent headaches from overheating.
-When you are done the bath, DO NOT DRY OFF!!! This is important! When finished the bath, wrap your wet body in a wool blanket. A real wool blanket, not flannel or fleece but the heavy, kinda itchy wool blankets. Go to bed and lie there for a few hours. The dampness and heat of your body swaddled in wool will make you sweat in buckets. This produces a body temperature that resembles a fever. Fevers are  the bodies defense against germs. Most germs can only live at body temperature, once a fever starts, they are killed off and prevented from multiplying. I have stopped colds in their tracks with this treatment, but it has to be done before all the symptoms are there. Once the congestion etc sets in, the body is already overwhelmed by germs and has set up it's own defences to battle them.

By the way, they have proved that taking remedies that stifle the bodies natural processes actually lengthen the time you are sick. As I stated, fevers are to kill off germs, if you take something to bring the fever down as soon as it hits, you are defeating the purpose and will have that many more germs to fight off. Unless the fever is life threatning ( which few are) just go through it. Mucous is another one of the bodies defenses, that is there to slow down the travel of germs. Again taking something to make it all go away , just speeds up the motility of the germs. Coughing and sneezing is how the body moves those clots of germs and mucous out of the body for disposal.

So stay away from the Contact C and all those drugs that dampen your bodies ability to fight the bad guys. Instead try fortifying your body with nutrients to boost your immune system. Take lots of Vitamin C, take it every hour or until you notice loose stools.Its not toxic and will give your body the fortification to fight back.  Zinc lozengers are also helpful, follow the recommended dosage and suck them as they need to be absorbed through the throat.Drink fluids to keep up the flushing process. Cold drinks are refreshing, hot ones will help drain the sinuses. If you really are having trouble breathing, a eucalyptus steam can be helpful. Pour boiling water into a heat proof bowl. Add a drop or two of eucalyptus oil to the water. Lean over the bowl with a towel draped over your head and take long slow deep breaths through the nose until your sinuses feel clear. Repeat as needed.

If your coughing, do us all a favor and cough into your elbow not your hands. Its stops the spread of germs. Wash your hands frequently. Colds are caught by picking up germs and introducing them to your nose, such as touching a germ infested door handle then scratching your nose. You may not be able to avoid coming into contact with cold germs but having a strong immune system to start will help your ability to fight them off before they can overwhelm you. Things that damage an immune system are stress, sugar and lack of nutrients. So eat well, sleep well, manage your stress( and we ALL have stress in one form or another) with exercise, yoga, meditation, journalling etc. And if all else fails and you get a cold anyway, then give yourself permission to take a few days off and pamper yourself, it's your bodies way of saying enough already, take a break!

I am linking to Ciindy's Show and Tell Friday

Friday, October 8, 2010

How to Resize a Door

I guess most people would have taken the measurements of their door frame and just made sure they got a door that fit that size. I'm not most people. I saw these beautiful doors offered for free on craigslist and knew I had to have them. I didn't know or care what size they were, I just wanted to incorporate them into my home. I finally decided I wanted them in the two doorways in my kitchen. If you look closely at this picture you can see that the door is about 2 inches taller than the doorframe and 2 inches narrower. Not to mention they were originally sliding doors so don't have the proper hardware to latch it closed. Not one to be daunted by such impracticalities, I set about making the door fit the frame. I had the good fortune to have the most amazing teacher help me with this. The furniture that he builds is stunning one-of- a-kind  gallery pieces, so I was very blessed that he took the time to help and teach me.
The first thing we did was cut 2 inches off the bottom of the door. There was a gap of an 1/8 of an inch left at the bottom and top of the door for air flow. It was wider at the bottom than the top so losing 2 inches from the bottom actually made it look more balanced. Mike then cut two, one inch strips of wood the length and thickness of the door which were glued and nailed on to each side. He removed the brass  hand plates and cut a piece of wood to fill the space and glued and nailed it into place. After spending the night with clamps while the glue dried, it was ready for the next steps.
  A closeup of the new edge and filled in section

I used this metal piece to scrape off any excess glue by holding it at a 45 degree angle and pushing it forward in a scraping motion to loosen any lumpy bits
Mike then instructed me on how to use the sander to smooth the edges of the new pieces to be level with the door. We did a big chunk of the work with this sander , then I went over it all with a palm sander to get it really smooth. Any gaps, holes, dents etc were filled in with a wood putty and left to dry. Later I went back and sanded those down as well.

 Once all the sanding was done, I used a router to go around all the edges so they had a slightly rounded look to them. Once I finished with the router, I took a piece of sand paper and bent it over the edges and sanded them all to an even finish.
 Next job was to create the inset for the hinges. I used a thin stick cut the same length as the door and went and measured where the hinge marks were in the door frame and marked them on the stick. We transfered the dimensions to the door and traced around the hinge to mark it out. Mike then used a different router to carve out the space.
 You can see the new hinge space he just carved at the top end of the door.
 He went back with a hammer and chisel and cleaned up the edges and made sure it was flat inside

 Once that was done it was time to install the hinges. He used a special tool to mark the center of each screw hole so that the hinge  screws would go in straight and flush. Here he is gently tapping it into place
 The last step was to drill the new holes for the door handle. He measured up from the bottom of the door to the height he wanted the handle and made a mark. he then measured in 2 3/4 inches to the depth the handle would be from the edge of the frame. Then using a large drill bit he carefully drilled out the hole on low speed. One thing he did first was to clamp a piece of wood under where he was drilling to prevent the hole from splintering outward as he went through.
The last step for which I don't have a picture was drilling the hole for the latch. He made sure it was centered in the wood and in relation to the larger hole. Using a one inch drill bit he carefully drilled into the larger hole.

Once all the woodworking was done, I painted the doors first with a coat of primer and then the top coat. Tomorrow we will install the doorknobs and hang the doors in the frames. Once the doors are in , I can start on the next project which is to get the floors sanded and stained. I can't wait to get my kitchen up and running.

I'm so grateful to Mike for showing me how to do this. I'm sure it is a skill I will be using alot as I have a huge collection of salvaged windows and doors that I will need to adjust to suit my purposes.
happy sanding,

I am linking this post to Cindy's Show and Tell Friday