Friday, August 31, 2012

Apparently I'm a "comment shit-starter"

You see, I comment. I comment when I read something that makes me want to respond, say something, share my opinion... I comment when I want to correct an erroneous fact. I comment when I want to offer my advice, whether it is needed or not. I comment when I believe my words could help someone think differently of the things I see as a problem of theirs. I comment quite a lot.

I like comments. I don't care whether the comments are positive or negative. I like them, because they show that someone has read my blog post and I write blog posts because I want someone to read them. (Come on, everyone, who writes public blogs, does.) Besides, the "negative" comments are great conversation starters. If the person commenting just cares to stay for a conversation, we usually move on both the wiser. We have learned something from it.

Now, I don't like the hit-and-runners, nor do I like the whiny bitches who delete the comments that don't suit them. Cowards, both of them.

Now - there are these people who really don't want anyone to comment with anything they don't like to hear. You may not say that, of course, because it's a nasty quality in a person. They understand that much, but don't quite understand how it connects to them... :-D

There was a blog project, and I was being a "good girl" - according to my standards - so I visited all the other blogs and if someone had said something I wanted to comment, I did.
Now, some of the people whose posts I commented went to the project organizer to whine about what a horrible person I am. The project organizer called me "comment shit-starter".

Now, I didn't know what a shit-starter was, so I looked it up. It's pretty self-explanatory.
A person who causes trouble...


Oh POOR YOU, the NASTY BITCH came to your blog and COMMENTED!!! 

I know, I know. I don't use enough exclamation marks. Nor do I write it with big enough letters. I'm such a mean person. Stinking Badger and proud of it :-D
And, no, I don't have any compassion towards these people. I mean... girl, if a comment in your public blog is enough to get you running and telling "mommy", you shouldn't have a public blog. I'm really not even that bad, because I actually speak my mind from my heart and if I speak to you, I think high enough of you to believe you can take it. I'm not a sock puppet, a troll, an attention seeker or a drama queen. So if you can't take MY comments, how the heck could you take comments from REAL "shit-starters"? Sweet little baby-girl, you are too fragile to be in the kitchen!

But, next time, if you don't appreciate my comment, have the courage to tell me. I have no problems apologizing if I realize I hurt you by something I said, and I might actually be able to explain myself better, so that you understand you misunderstood my comment, and it really wasn't hurtful. I am usually kind and I know I sometimes express myself in a manner that is hard to understand. English is not my first language, you know.

But I will respond in kind. If you act like a hurt little princess bitch, I will kill you.

Nah. You're not worth it. :-D

You see, I really am a stinking badger. I'm a middle-aged witch and I have never been a fluffbunny. Not even when I first learned there's this thing called Wicca. I'm a stinking badger and I eat fluffy bunnies for breakfast. If there's nothing better to eat. ;-)

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Now a couple of words about the countdown calendar. Every year I plan making one, and every year, Sabbaths pass by, one by one, without any countdowns done.

I love countdowns. There are several suggestions all over the internet, in magazines and books. As far as I know, there are no countdown calendars for Mabon, so if you want one, you have to make yourself one.

First you need to decide how many days you want to count down, so that you know when to start.
You can start the countdown on September 1st and count down 22 days to Autumn Equinox.
You can also choose the 24, two dozens, 4x6, to keep the format of most Yule countdown calendars. That means the first day to "open a door" is 30th of August, in a week.
You could count down weeks. Mabon this year is on Saturday, so you could start next Saturday and count down four weeks. This is most comfortable if you choose the North European manner of burning a candle every week.

Next you need to decide what kind of calendar you want.

There are the candle calendars.

The Christian way is to light a candle every sunday, four weeks before Christmas. First week it's one candle, second sunday two candles, and so on. There are all kinds of cute little beliefs associated with this tradition, for example that the first candle is for peace, the second for love and so on. (Or something like that.) You could choose this version. Get four candlesticks or a "table crown", a candle holder designed to stand on the table with the four candles in a circle or in a row. These are very popular here in Northern Europe. Decorate this season appropriately, choose candles of a Mabon color (autumn leaves and grapes), and you're good to go :-)

Then there is one big candle you burn a little every day. Choose a quite heavy white (or light colored) candle and paint the amount of lines on it you want to count down days. Set this candle in a special place, and light it every day the same time, and sit by it watching how it burns to the next line. I love these things. I could watch the flame for a long time, and every now and then one was lost in thoughts and forgot to blow out the flame in time - so a couple of days worth of candle was burned :-D

Then there are the picture calendars. It's usually a large picture printed or painted on thin cardboard, with small doors one needs to pry open, to reveal a tiny picture behind it. One can make these at home. I especially loved one from a Swedish children's comic book, where the picture inside was the same as the picture outside, but with a difference... like a candle was shown lit in the inside picture, when there was an unlit candle outside, or someone was carrying a lot of parcels, or there was a bird sitting in a tree or so. When all the doors were opened, you had a pretty picture to hang on the wall and use as decoration :-)

My favorite calender of this kind was the activity calendar... it was large, with 4x4 inches (10x10 cm) doors... You could use them as a puzzle when they were all "opened". On the other side of these doors or cards were puzzles, craft ideas, activities etc. like mazes, or coloring pictures or so. Under the cards another pretty picture was revealed, and behind this was a game board, so one could play a game on Christmas eve, when waiting for the adults to get ready with all the preparations. I loved that one!

I also loved Jostein Gaarders' "Julemysteriet" (Christmas Mystery). It is a book with 24 chapters. A boy has an advent calendar with a story behind each door, about a girl who on the first day of advent starts following a toy lamb that comes alive, and travels through time and Europe from Norway to Israel, meeting different people that are essential in understanding the history of Christianity and the Christmas Story. At Christmas she is back in the beginning of current reckoning, in the stable at Bethlehem...

One variation of these picture calendars is the chocolate calendar. This is about the same, except that between the two layers of pictures is a tray with chocolates. The chocolates are the same shape as the picture behind the door, and the tray can be reused to make chocolates...

The best sort of advent calendars are the ones where you get presents, and different present every day. I still remember being so envious, almost 40 years ago, because our neighbor's kids had a calender with small plastic figurines in. SO envious...

I have tried to save matchboxes to build myself a calendar, but - matchboxes are in heavy use in this family, so they are a bit too scruffy when they are empty. I just recently realized, that matchboxes don't really cost that much, so I could buy myself brand new matchboxes, all 24 at a time, emtpy the matches in a box and make my calender :-D

Now, there are dozens of variations of the present calendar; you can make boxes, bags, drawers, jars... only your imagination sets limits here. :-D

One idea I had was a backbag, decorated accordingly, where one could put in a hand and lift up an item... so one didn't need to wrap them, and they could be of any size.

But the main problem is - WHAT TO USE TO FILL THE BOXES?
Matchboxes are REALLY SMALL. It has to be something really, really small! What is that small? I don't want to fill the boxes with candy - which would be easy...
And what to do with all the stuff after the holidays!

Some really good suggestions are, in my mind:
- holiday decoration, ornaments
- miniatures for the dolls' house or miniature railroad.
- Start building a proper "presepe Napoletano", and give new stuff to it as surprises in the calender. I have always loved these complicated, huge miniature 3D illustrations...

But if you are not interested in that, here's some suggestions:
- look at "jar of whimsies" and create one with the person for whom the calender is intended to in mind. I mean, this is supposed to be fun and goofy and whimsical. It doesn't need to be anything serious and nice and perfect and useful.

specifically for Mabon:
* anything to do with wine, for adults
* Autumn Equinox is about time, waging, measuring - so measuring instruments, watches, hourglass, scales...
* the symbols of Mabon are fruits, especially apples and grapes; trees and autumn leaves, forest life, like squirrels and owls; hunting animals, especially leopards, hawks and hunting dogs; big cats, especially spotted and striped ones, and anything leopard spotted; nuts, acorns, pinecones and such; brooms, thyrsus and caduceus; cups, chalices, glasses and rattles, maracas and other such noise making instruments.
* package of raisins, winegum candy, small plastic leopard, fingerless gloves, autumn scarf, burgundy or purple bouncy ball, pen knife, chapstick...

It would be so much easier for Yule, Samhain and Ostara!

But - look at those things, and replace bunnyrabbits, Yule pigs and black cats with leopards; eggs, hearts, stars and pumpkins with apples (there's quite a lot of apple stuff around...) and all the mythological folks (gnomes, skeletons, spooks) with fauns and maenads... and so on, accordingly.

See my Pinterest board for Countdown Calender ideas

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Mabon Traditions

Autumn Equinox is not very celebrated feast around the world. We have to practically form our own traditions. The good thing about this is that we get to celebrate the Autumn Equinox exactly as we'd like to. The bad thing is that - we don't have the slightest idea of how. :-D

Some years ago I wrote about how to plan a Midsummer celebration. I told people to plan it by simple rules: do what you like, don't do what you don't like. Even if it is a tradition, if you don't like it, don't do it. In Sweden it is a tradition to eat pickled herring for Midsummer. I don't eat seafood of any kind. It doesn't matter how much people say it doesn't taste like fish or any other thing they assume is the reason to why I don't eat seafood, I won't eat it.

(The reason to why I don't eat seafood is that it doesn't taste good to me. Even the best things I have been offered haven't tasted especially good. They haven't necessarily been bad, but it's on the list of things I would eat if I had to, but if I have a choice - which I consider I always have - I choose something else. I'd rather eat liver than seafood. So, just a simple question of taste. Some people like purple, I don't. Some people love seafood, I don't. For some reason it's ok to not like purple, daisies, cats or smell of rotten fish, but when it comes to food, you MAY NOT not like something, or you are considered childish, immature, whiny, trying to be special, trying to get attention or something else like that, and you can BET there's someone trying to trick you to eat the very thing you said you don't like... and when you are polite and eat and thank for the food given to you, they laugh at you because you somehow have been "exposed"... No, darling, I still don't like it. I'm just well brought up. Unlike you.)

Back to pickled herring. If you don't like it, don't serve it. Even if you have a "secret" family recipe, don't make it. Give the recipe to someone who appreciates it. You don't.

See all the feast traditions the same way. Yes, it's a tradition to eat turkey at Thanksgiving dinner. But if you don't like turkey, don't eat it. Don't serve it, don't make it. Tell your guests in good time beforehand that they won't get any turkey in your house. Your house is a turkey free zone. If they want turkey at Thanksgiving, they cannot celebrate it with you. You HOPE that your company is more appreciated to them than turkey, but if they now just have to have turkey for Thanksgiving, and not day before or day after or at a restaurant, then they cannot celebrate Thanksgiving with you. There are people like that, and having your dream holiday is not to be your guests' worst nightmare.

Anyway - pick the traditions you love, the ones you like and the ones you don't mind, and discard the rest. Adopt traditions from other people. People do that all the time.
I know I yap about the Christians "stealing" Yule and now they are "stealing" Chanukkah (which is kind of worse, because they are not just taking the traditions, date and other such stuff and renaming it, they are taking the whole megillah and giving it new meaning... *rolling eyes* Christian Chanukkah? I mean... Chanukkah is celebrated to commemorate the victory over the Greeks, and Christianity is practically synonymous to Greeks. Makes me sick.)
Anyway, in my mind adopting and adapting traditions is quite ok. Even for Christians. I start having problems when they adopt traditions and then start claiming they were theirs in the first place. Like "Jesus is the Reason for the Season". Nope. Winter Solstice is the "reason for the season". Winter Solstice happens every year, to every person living on this planet, totally in spite of what people believe in. Believe all you want that Jesus is the reason to why Earth's axis tilts, but don't start arguing about the matter, be so kind.
Bah. I keep sliding from the issue... I think I need to mark with different color the thing I'm trying to say here, so you can ignore the chattering in between ;-)

Pick the traditions you like from ANY culture, civilization (it's actually offensive to speak about culture and civilization, because not all people live in cities or farm, and they are not less "civilised" or "cultured" than those who do. In many cases it's the other way around.) and adjust it to yours.
I am creating my Mabon celebration based on
- the Jewish Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Sukkoth AND Simcha Torah celerbations;
- the Chinese Mid-Autumn festival (Moon festival);
- St Michael's celebration;
- Oschophoria and other Dionysos' feasts and vintage celebrations.
- Thanksgiving and Harvest feasts all over the world, through the ages and
-  Octoberfest. (It actually starts around September Equinox and lasts for 2-3 weeks... like "old time Christmas", 12 days...)

Interesting here is that the National Grandparents' day is in September and The International Day for the Elderly is October 1st - and one of the themes of Mabon is "Old Age".

My husband and I are actually wondering if I might have ADD... ROTFLMAO! I was writing this blog entry and then looked up something and three hours later... "Oh... I was writing a blog entry!"

Bah. I'll never get there!

Some time ago I wrote a little something about how to plan the best Midsummer fest ever.
Look back at your experiences and ask yourself:
1) What was the best and the worst of the previous Midsummer celebrations
2) What was the best and the worst of OTHER PEOPLE's Midsummer celebrations
3) What is the best and the worst of the celebrations of OTHER FEASTS at this time of the year
4) What is the best and the worst of the OTHER SABBATH celebrations

Take what you want, adjust it to your needs and run with it :-) That's the way traditions are created. Most of the modern holiday traditions are just 1-2 generations old. Grandparents didn't celebrate the holidays the same way their grandchildren do...

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

How to make a great Autumn gift basket

I love gift baskets. I love gifts that are actually a lot of gifts in one big package :-)

But the thing is that that is usually a lot of deceit... more than half of the basket is fillings, foam, paper, plastic bags...

so that what you SEE IS what you get... there are no hidden surprises there.

1) Gather the items you wish to give. For this basket, find items that say "Autumn" to you. Red, orange, yellow and brown items, with a little purple and burgundy, and forest animals, nuts and acorns and such.
Get one large and more expensive item, 2-3 "bigger medium" size, 3-5 "smaller medium" and 5-7 small items. It's easier to arrange the items in the basket, if you have an odd number of items. Add volume with things like candles and candy.

Examples of Autumn gifts:

* beauty products; as the air is getting colder, the skin, nails and hair are getting dry, so give exfoliating scrubs, moisturizers and moisturising masks for skin and hair, chapsticks, hand creams, nail cream etc. There are tons of recipes for home-made versions for all of this, and it's nice to pack it in a pretty jar and give as a gift.

* spices - pumpkin spice, apple spice, mulled wine spice, chili spice, hot chocolate mix...
* candy apples and homemade candy
* dried apples and other fruits, fruit leather, dried vegetables and mushrooms and berries
* homemade jams, jellies, sauces and conserves

* flower bulbs (like chrysanthemum) that are to be planted in the Autumn
* flower seed that can be sprinkled in the garden to bloom next summer
* seed bombs

* scarf and wrist warmers or gloves

* scented pinecones, pinecone fire starters and other things made with pinecones. or acorns or horse chestnut etc.
* nuts and apples, and things associated and connected to them, like nut crackers or apple knife.

* forest animals, squirrels, owls, foxes etc. are associated with Autumn, so you can add small items decorated with these animals in your basket

2) Get the basket. A shallow basket is better than a deep basket, because you want your gift items to be visible, so you'd need to fill the deep basket with filling. A natural colored basket is better than a painted one, because the basket is not the focus here, but what is in the basket, and most people just toss the basket away, so it's unnecessary to use any time to decorate the basket.
But remember to add a couple of surprises in the basket as well ;-)

3) The idea is that all your gifts are shown, so that it looks very rich and nice, so you need to start with some filling. Use cheap things, like foam, styrofoam, plastic bags, newspaper, tissue, straw, shredded paper, hay, or any such. This too should be of neutral color, the items are to add the color and interest to the basket.

4) Start by putting in the biggest, highest items. If your basket has a handle, tie the highest item to the handle, with wire or tape. If not, push one large item in deep in the basket to be used as an anchor, that you can tape the other items to. Collect items in a pyramid shape, the largest and highest in the middle, and the other in size order around it. Use the smallest to decorate the "pile" of gifts.

5) Add silk flowers, ornaments, tinsel (sparkle shred, angel hair etc.) and such, to make the basket look even more festive. For this Autumn basket, you can use silk leaves (or real Autumn leaves you have prepared), chrysanthemums or asters.

6) Use cellophane to keep the things together. Just wrap the basket in the plastic and heat it carefully with hairdryer so that it shrinks. You can also tape it neatly in place. Use A LOT of this. You could also use organza, chiffon or tulle, or any other sheer material, like tissue paper. It is better to use something clear, because the items are the main thing with gift baskets and the purpose is to show them, not to wrap them.

7) Decorate with ribbons, bows, silk flowers, ornaments, plush toys etc. and add a card. Use bigger cards for big baskets and gift tags for small baskets.

Edited September 2016: I found this; 30 things to put in a fall gift basket GREAT ideas!

Monday, August 20, 2012

It's beginning to look a lot like Autumn...

"It's beginning to look a lot like..." Autumn? Not really... it's only August. I know it's the first month of Autumn, but... it doesn't feel like Autumn. It's still warm. Too warm in some places. But... the mushroom are out, the leaves are turning yellow... the nights are getting slightly colder... I live in Sweden, so I'm quite high up North, nevertheless...
About a month to Mabon. Mabon, Autumn Equinox, is the Middle of Autumn. There's only about 6 weeks to Samhain from that, and Samhain IS Winter. To me.
So - even when it doesn't FEEL like Autumn, according to me it is. Early Autumn, Harvest time.
There are still blueberries in the forest, because around here no-one picks them but me, and I hurt my foot in June and am forbidden (by my caring and loving husband, who knows me and knows that if he doesn't forbid me, I'm stupid enough to risk the future health of my foot and go anyway...) to go to the forest. *sigh*
I go anyway... just for short trips. And bring him chaunterelles as peace offering. ;-)
So I know the lingonberries are getting red.
I should go and gather the raspberry leaves and ferment them for emergency tea. When one treats the raspberry leaves properly, they do produce a rather good tea. Not as good as good black tea, but better than bad black tea.

I have been reading my notes, about Sabbaths and Mabon. The first "advent Sunday" - if one wishes to burn candles four weeks before the Sabbath - is now, 26th of August. So - make your advent chandelier, get autumn colored candles and prepare.
Or if you plan on having an advent calendar, the 1st of September is less than two weeks away. You might need to decide what kind of calender to make and what you are going to put in as gifts.
One idea is to make largish autumn leaves of paper and sew two together with a surprise inside...

Also, it would be good if you prepared for the "December Daily" album - for Mabon. For example "September Daily" or "30 days of Mabon" - you can choose 30 days ending with Mabon (starting 24.8.) or if you want to end it with "12 days of Mabon", you need to start 4th of September. But - plan it, prepare it, get all the stuff you'd like to have in it.
Then I need to make the cards.

And you really need to plan feast. What will you eat, do you need to make something in advance, flowers, entertainment, what will happen day to day, is there a need to prepare for anything, like a trip to a farm to pick your own veggies or something? A visit to an orchard?

Are you going to dress up? If so, what do you plan to wear? Do you need to make it? Less than 5 weeks to Mabon. I want to be dressed as a maenad.

 Not with a tiger pelt, a panther pelt. Fake, of course.

I wonder what my husband would want... I wonder if he'd agree to wear skin colored tights and a panther pelt over it, like the Victorian Strong Men :-D I'd love to see him like that :-D

What about music? What is autumn music to you?

Do you plan on watching movies? I do - Harvest Home and Wicker Man :-D Every year ;-)

Sights, scents, sounds, sensations, tastes...

What do you plan to eat? It is tradition to eat vegetarian on Harvest Feasts, because the animals are not to be killed before Samhain. I am surprised by the many meaty recipes among Harvest recipes - I am a meateater and even though I can give up meat - every now and then - I can't imagine a life without it. Many other Pagans, especially Wiccans, who are the ones mainly celebrating these Sabbaths, are vegetarians, even vegans... yet there are so many meat recipes. Very confounding. Alas, in our family the harvest trio will be celebrated with meatless menus.

Do you need to brew something? Make wine? I don't know how long it takes... I need to find out.

And how do you plan setting the table? Do you need some napkins or other things for the setting?

Or the rest of the home, mantelpieces, windows, doors... what about kitchen cloths, like tea towels and potholders? Need something new? Plan it in, these weeks pass fast!

Do you plan on giving gifts? If so, what kind? To whom? How much do you plan on using, do you plan on making things yourself? Or what? In my mind one SHOULD give gifts on EVERY Sabbath. After all, that's one big reason to why people love Yule. And birthdays. And Samhain. And Ostara. ;-)
You could take these plastic eggs and decorate them to look like pinecones or acorns.
You could go gathering pinecones, dip them in wax and give thee firestarters as gifts.
A basket of nuts with a nice nutcracker? Any of these thousand and one apple gifts for teachers? A piece of jewelry made around a pendant depicting one of Mabon symbols? What are YOUR Mabon symbols?

nutcracker dog 
from the book "The Country Store" by Stephanie Donaldson, 
photo by Michelle Garret

My Pinterest collection of Mabon ideas
My Pinterest collection of countdown calendar ideas
My December Daily album inspiration at Pinterest
My Pinterest collection of Rosh Hashanah ideas (It's a couple of days before Mabon, and my husband is Jewish, so that's why I have it, but you can use the ideas for your Mabon.)
My Pinterest collection of Autumn pictures and ideas, to get you in the mood :-)

Five weeks to go, prepare yourself! :-D