Merry Meet everyone. I am back after taking a month off to plan my wedding for Halloween. Wow, I didn’t know that getting married could be so hard! But we made it and are so happy.
I was raised in a Christian household and came into my path after I was grown and away from home, so I still observe some of the Christian holidays with my family. November brings us Thanksgiving and to me it does not matter what your faith or path is, it is never a bad thing to take time to be thankful and give thanks for all that we have. My husband (that sounds so strange and yet good at the same time) and I do not have much but we give thanks for what we do have every day.
I keep a journal and try to write at least one thing I am grateful and thankful for in it every day.
We have moved into the cold dark time of the year so all out planting, harvesting and gathering is over, by now everything is canned, dried, and put up for the coming months and some of us will find that we have a lot of time on our hands. This month I am going to post some crafty ideas, home deco ideas as well as my usual column items. I am also adding a new element this month. As you know my husband is a truck driver. Pagans come in all shapes, sizes and walks of life. They are even truck drivers. I drove for about 17 yrs. before giving it up. In that time I learned lots of different tricks and tips for making life on the road easier and more livable. I am going to start passing that onto my Pagan truckers here.
Yule: Traditions and the Yule Log
Yule, (pronounced EWE-elle) is when the dark half of the year moves aside to the light half. The morning after the solstice, the sunrises just a little higher and stays just a little longer in the sky each day. Known as Solstice Night, or the longest night of the year, the sun’s “rebirth” was celebrated with much joy. On this night, our ancestors celebrated the rebirth of the Oak King, the Sun King, or Giver of Life that warmed the frozen Earth. From this day forward, the days would become longer and the nights shorter.
Symbols of Yule: Yule log, evergreen boughs or wreaths, holly, mistletoe, gold, silver, or red pillar candles, poinsettias, Christmas cactus.
Herbs of Yule: Bayberry, blessed thistle, frankincense, laurel, mistletoe, oak, sage.
Foods of Yule: Cookies made into festive shapes, fruits, nuts, pork dishes, turkey, eggnog, spiced cider.
Incense or candle scents of Yule: cedar, bayberry, cinnamon.
Colors of Yule: Red, green, gold, white, silver, yellow, blue
Activities of Yule: Caroling, burning the Yule log, decorating the Yule tree, exchanging of presents, kissing under the mistletoe.
In centuries past on Yule Eve, a big log was brought into a home or large hall. Songs were sung and stories told. Everyone celebrated. Offerings of food and wine and decorations were placed upon it. The log was burned to help remove all the bad and negative things that had happened during the year and to cleanse for the New Year. The log however was never allowed to burn completely, a bit was kept in the house to start next year’s log. The log brought good luck. Any pieces that were kept protected a house from fire, or lightning. Ashes of the log would be placed in wells to keep the water good. Ashes were also placed at the roots of fruit trees and vines to help them with a good harvest. It was believed the log could predict bad luck. If the fire went out before the night was through, tragedy would strike the home in the coming year.
The burning of the Yule log also marked the beginning of Christmas celebrations in Christian homes. In some traditions as long as the log burned the people didn’t have to work, so huge logs were burned. Think of it as an extended celebration.
In England the log was supposed to burn for the twelve days of Christmas, from Christmas Eve on December 24th to Epiphany on January 6th.
The type of wood for the Yule log depended on the area of the world that was lived in, some used ash, while others used oak.
We never had a fireplace to burn our Yule log so I decorated a small log with holly and ever green boughs and hot glued 3 small taper candle holders to it and placed the candles in the holders on Yule Eve. The candles would be lit at the beginning of our celebration and extinguished at bedtime.
For those of you who have combined families the Yule log can be combined with your Christmas Eve celebrations also. You could also bake a Yule Log Cake. (I do not yet have a recipe)
Have you ever been kissed under the Mistletoe? Some people get pretty sneaky about where they hang it in the house don’t they? They hang it in a place that isn’t expected and then wait for the unsuspecting to come along.
The custom of kissing under it comes to us from our friends in England. Their custom is to pick a berry from the sprig each time someone kisses under it, once all the berries are gone…no more kissing. The name mistletoe comes from two Anglo-Saxon words, Mistel which means dung and tan which means stick. Poop on a stick…still want that kiss? lol.
Many get pretty creative with the decoration, making elaborate balls to hang instead of hanging a simple sprig, hence the kissing ball.
Actually the hanging of Mistletoe dates back to the ancient Druids. They would hang it in their homes to ward off evil and to bring good luck. It is also a sign of friendship.
Yule also concurs with the Christian holiday Christmas so your children are out of school for Christmas Break. Making Yule decorations with your kids are a great way to reconnect with them and make them feel like they had a hand in the making of the holiday prep for your family. Salt dough ornaments were really popular in our house. Simple ingredients, holiday shaped cookie cutters, glue, glitter, paint and sequins can make this fun time for kids.
Salt Dough Ornaments
1 cup salt
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup luke warm water
In a large bowl mix salt and flour. Gradually stir in water so that it does not clump. Mix well until it forms a doughy consistency. With your hands form a ball with your dough and knead it for at least 5 minutes. The longer you knead the dough the smoother it will be. Store your salt dough in an air tight container and you will be able to use it for days if you cannot make the ornaments right away.
You can let your salt dough ornaments air dry, but if you have gotten this far with your child’s attention still intact you won’t want to wait that long. Salt dough can be dried in the oven safely. Place ornaments on a cookie sheet covered with parchment paper.
Bake at 275 F until the ornaments are dry. The amount of time needed to bake your ornaments depends on size and thickness; thin flat ornaments may only take about 45 minutes, thicker ones can take 2-3 hours. You can increase your oven temperature to 350 F, your dough will dry faster but it may also brown, which won’t matter if you are painting the ornaments.
There are a few ways to color your salt dough:
Add powdered tempera paint to your flour
Add food coloring or paint to the water before you mix it with the salt/flour
Add natural coloring like instant coffee, cocoa, or turmeric powder.
You can paint your creations with acrylic paints and seal with varnish or polyurethane spray after they are baked and cooled. Add sequins before your sealant and glitter after the sealant has been applied.
Have I mentioned that I love to cook? Well…I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE to cook!
Chicken and red potatoes with an Orange/cranberry wine sauce
1 orange, grate the rind. (do not use the bitter white part) save the flesh of the orange.
¼ tsp thyme
1 1/2 lb. chicken breast ¼ tsp rosemary
3/4 tsp. pepper 1 lb.red potatoes, diced
1 Tbsp. olive or canola oil 1 1/4 cup chicken broth
1 cup whole berry Cranberry Sauce 1 Tbsp. white wine vinegar
Preheat oven to 375°. Rinse chicken & pat dry. Sprinkle with salt to taste, pepper, and the remaining herbs. Cover with ½ the orange rind. Place in a baking dish and bake for 30 minutes. While the chicken is baking toss the potatoes with the oil and salt and pepper to taste. After 30 min remove chicken from over and dish, place potatoes in the bottom of the dish and return the chicken to the dish, return the dish to the oven for 90 min, occasionally turning the chicken and potatoes with a spatula.
During the last 40 min of baking, combine chicken broth, cranberry sauce and vinegar in a small saucepan. Bring to boiling over medium heat boil 20 minutes or until reduced to 1 1/2 cups. Peel white from orange, seed, flesh and cut into small pieces. Stir remaining rind and cut orange into saucepan; simmer 5 minutes. Let chicken sit for 20 minutes before cutting. Cut chicken in half lengthwise down the middle. Spoon Cranberry Sauce mixture over chicken and serve with red potatoes.
Ginger Bread cake
1 cup brown sugar 1 cup molasses
1/2 cup butter 3 cups flour
1 cup buttermilk 2 tsp. ginger
2 tsp. cinnamon 1/2 tsp. cloves, ground
1/4 tsp. nutmeg 2 eggs, well beaten
1 tsp. baking soda, dissolved in 1/4 cup boiling water
Cream the butter and sugar, add the eggs and molasses, and mix well. Sift the flour and spices, and add alternately with the milk to the first mixture. Stir in the dissolved baking soda. Pour into well-greased cake pan and bake at 350° F for 30 minutes. Cool and ice with an icing made from powdered sugar and milk. Sprinkle with colored sugars if desired.
Many centuries ago England gave us the tradition of “wassailing”. Based on the tradition of friends gathering in a circle, the host drinks first to the health of all present. He/She would sip from a cup of hot punch or spiced ale, the host would then pass the cup.. A special large cup or drinking bowl was used for the toast. As each friend raises the cup, before sipping he or she would state the toast, “Wass hael” meaning “be whole” or “be well”. While many versions exist, this one contains the symbolic ingredients: apples, representing fertility and health; spices, signifying riches and variety; eggs, a symbol of life and rebirth as well as wine and brandy.
1 dozen apples; baked 1 cup water
4 cups sugar 1 Tbsp. freshly ground nutmeg
2 tsp. ground ginger 6 whole cloves
6 allspice berries 1 stick cinnamon
1 dozen eggs, separated 4 bottles sherry or Madeira wine
2 cups brandy
Combine water, sugar, and spices in a large glass saucepan. (You can use any saucepan but Teflon) Bring to boil over medium high heat, and boil for 5 minutes. In a small bowl beat the egg whites until stiff. In a separate small bowl, beat the egg yolks until light in color. In separate pans, bring the wine and the brandy almost to the boiling point. Fold the whites into the yolks, using a large heatproof bowl. Mix the sugar and spice mixture into the eggs, combining quickly. Slowly stir the hot wine with the spice and egg mixture, beginning slowly and stirring briskly. Add the brandy last. Just before serving and while the mixture is still foaming, add the baked apples. Serve in heatproof cups. You can cut the baked apples up and mix in the punch so that guests can have the apples with their drink.
I spend this time of year getting creative with my recipes and whatnot for the next year. I love tea and using herbs with my tea rather than traditional black teas. I also love coffee and drink a lot of it while on the road. This time of year I find myself dragging with no energy. It is due to not enough sunlight, so I will supplement my energy with kola nut and cocoa. I do not remember where I found this recipe but I love it.
Mix 1 tbsp. of ground kola nut with enough honey to bind. Roll into very small balls and then roll to dust lightly with cocoa powder. These can be stored in a small zip lock bag in the fridge. When needed just drop one into a cup of coffee, tea or cocoa. ****DO NOT USE more than 1 ball and NO MORE than 2 balls a day. Kola Nut is a stimulant and will speed up the heart rate. DO NOT USE if you have heart problems or high blood pressure****
For the Kitties: Holiday Treats
1 c turkey, ground ½ c fresh cooked, mashed or canned pumpkin
1 tbsp. canola or olive oil ½ tsp ground flax seed
Mix all ingredients together and roll into small balls, and store in an airtight container in the fridge. Serve whenever you want to treat your kitty. Store for about 1 week and discard the remaining treats.
For the puppies: Puppy Meat loaf.
This month I am introducing a dog food instead of a treat. I have finally found a recipe I can take on the road with us. I cannot yet make enough for the whole month in the truck, but I can make enough for my dog to have this as a meal about once a week. We now have a fridge in the truck that has a small freezer in it so I can make some of these up and freeze them and thaw when wanted. For this recipe you can use beef, chicken, turkey, lamb or if you feed fish to your dog, Salmon. I personally do not feed fish to my dogs. Rice is good for their digestion so I have included it in this recipe.
4 c brown wild rice 1/2c bow shaped rice pasta
10 c water 2 ½ c chicken or beef stock broth
1 ½ lbs. of the meat you want to use 1 ½ c veggie mix, frozen thawed veggies will work
½ c oats ¼ c ground flax seed
¼ c buttermilk 3 eggs
In a large pan boil the rice and meat, and pasta until rice is tender. Add all remaining ingredients and shape into small loafs if you do not have the mini loaf pans, if you do use these, but spray with cooking spray before putting mini loafs in. Bake at 375 for 20-30 min or just until the top starts to brown nicely. Cool completely and pop out of the pans. Wrap in plastic or zip lock bags. For small dogs usually 1 loaf is enough, for larger dogs 2. I thaw the loafs and mix with Sebastian’s dry food so that he doesn’t forget that he has to eat his dry too. So 1 loaf is good for him.
Witchy Household and Beauty Tips
Empty squeeze ketchup and mustard bottles are great for decorating cookies and cakes. Simply clean the bottles with boiling water and allow drying for colored sugars and such. You can also use them for frosting decorations instead of pastry bags.
Use dryer sheets to help with static and dust collection. Wipe furniture with the sheet and dust will not build as fast
Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize!!!! It is dry outside so our skin gets dry. Coconut oil is a great moisturizer. Just a little bit goes a long way. Coarse Sea salt is a good buffer for getting rid of dry scaly skin, just mix some with coconut oil and gently buff those dry areas. DO this for your legs before shaving and it will lessen the chance for nicks.
Don’t forget to take care of your lips. The wind and cold is murder on them. Try sweet almond oil in place of chap stick. Antibiotic cream applied at night before bed will help with split lips.
As mentioned in the beginning I am adding a new element to my monthly column. I was a truck driver for many years and am now married to one and travel with him 24/7/365. WOW right! Traveling is tough on a person, but working, and living on the road is really tough. Truck drivers have it hard on the road being away from family and friends for days, weeks and maybe even months at a time. My truck is my home and it is SMALL, but just like your home there are tricks to storage and house proofing.
We are fortunate that our truck has 2 bunks in it. We use the upper bunk for storage. If you have one and want to use it for this purpose just be sure to remove the mattress beforehand so that the items you store are behind the lip of the bunk, otherwise they will not stay up there. Stackable storage containers or the plastic storage dressers are great, but you will have to use elastic cords to keep the drawers shut as the bouncing with cause them to slide open.
Truck drivers run in all weather conditions and the winters can be extremely harsh in some parts of the US and the world. Before the onset of winter I will buy weather stripping and put it around the side box doors to help keep the cold out. I also hang heavy towels over our sleeper windows as well as the covering. This time of year I will shop Goodwill for old blankets to fold and put at the head and foot of the bed to help keep the drafts out. I also fold and put one under the mattress along the back wall to keep the draft there out. For those of you that drive the trucks that are drafty at the doors, put an extra stipe of weather stipe along the door. Believe me you this will go a long way to helping keep the truck warmer in the cold, especially for those driver that have bunkwarmers or APU’s and don’t idle their trucks. Regardless of what your company says a bunkwarmer is not going to keep you warm if the temp is below 25 degrees.
For you drivers that do not have cab curtains: simply get 2 insulated window drapes 84 inches long and 42 inches wide and sew them end to end. The metal heavy duty- winged paper clips secure the curtain to your visor and you can simply secure the sides by putting the window down and the securing the curtain by putting the window up with it. This will help keep more of the heat in when you are sleeping.
Well my friends it has happened again, time to let you go for this month. Until next month have a Blessed Yule and a Merry Christmas. Count your blessings and hold your loved ones tight and keep your brooms under the radar.
You can email me @ [email protected]
© 2013 By: Jade Owl (Margaret Loomis)