Monthly Archives: November 2011

Cabbage-Fest Continues!

Tonight’s cabbage-inclusive meal had a grand total of seven ingredients, was ready in about 20 minutes, and was delicious.


Hardy Vegetables Stir-Fry

Boil 5 mild Italian pork sausages until they are floating[1].

While the sausages are boiling, prep the following:
1C long-keeping green cabbage, shredded (or finely diced)
2 tbsp red onion, diced
2 yellow-flesh potatoes, peeled and diced (large chunks)
1 beet root, peeled and diced (small-medium chunks)

and toss them all into a sauce-pan of water.

Bring the veggies to a boil and cook for 15 minutes (or until the beets are reasonably-easily pierced with a fork).

When the veggies are about 5 minutes into their cooking process, the sausages should be floating in their own pan. At this point, remove them from their pan and:
Chop them into rounds (about 1cm wide)
Then toss them in a frying pan with 1 tbsp butter to brown and get crispy-delicious.

(You may need to turn the heat off under the sausages at this point, if they are getting nice and crispy and brown and the beets are still crunchy).

Drain the boiled vegetables.
Toss them in the frying pan with the sausages.
Add 1-2 tsp grainy/brown mustard, and stir everything together over medium heat until well-mixed and heated through.

Serve hot, possibly with a glass of white wine or sweet apple cider, and enjoy.


So, there you have it.
I’m trying to see how many different things I can do with a limited number of ingredients. So far, so good. We’ll see how I’m doing come January. 🙂

Meliad the Birch Maiden. 🙂

[1] This means they are cooked enough and only need to be browned until crisp on the outside — a handy trick for getting them done quickly and thoroughly without also filling your kitchen with frying-pan smoke.

Magic (with rocks in)

So, not surprisingly (although more than a little disturbingly), the snow that came a few days ago has all but disappeared. I went out this morning in, yes, a coat but also in ballet flats, no socks, and a summer-weight dress.

I don’t trust weather like this.
I appreciate the warmth, sure. But the ground is supposed to be frozen now.

The beads I ordered have arrived – YAY – which means I have 50-odd little silver (coloured) bees and a slew of spacer beads with-which to make various earring collections. The first order of business, then, will be to finish the Snow Moon set and do the rest of that collection. The second order of business is to the Honey Month collection, and then I’m off to the races.

All that being said, I think I’ll be putting in another bead order — in part because I was given a coupon for the doing of same — so that I can pull in some rhodocrosite (I can never spell that one) and a few other love-related beads.

My Ghost has a friend who could do with a love-yourself charm and my thought is to make a wire tea-light holder strung with rose quartz, rodonite and rhodcrosite (and maybe a few other bits and bobs along those lines) and do a mostly-pink-and-silver piece that lends itself to regular feeding-by-candle-flame due to its having a secondary, complementary purpose.

My Ghost is suggesting that I use her old med-bottles (they are these little 5ml bottles like what perfume oils come in) and use them as wearable spell-bottles. I’m thinking that this is an awesome idea.

Anyway. That’s where I’m at just now. 🙂

Meliad the Birch Maiden.

First Snow of the Season

Wednesday, November 23rd – First Snow of the Winter.

Yesterday, before dawn, the moon came up like a sickle over the city. This morning we woke, unexpectedly and at 3am, to see huge, fluffy flakes tumbling down onto streets already blanketed in snow.

It’s dangerous, the first real snow fall of the season. People leave it until too late and end up trying to remember how to drive through slush before their snow tires are on, and freaking out about running late in the process. As a pedestrian, I try to stay off the main roads unless it’s snowed so badly that I can get through on the un-plowed sidewalks.

Even still, even with the slippery slogging and the biting wind (although I’ll note that, with the snow, it’s actually warmer today than it was, say, on the 20th) flinging tiny little ice pellets into your face, it’s still beautiful, and still evocative of Good Things Coming.

That there will be fresh-fallen snow on the ground to mark the arrival of Snow Moon tomorrow morning makes me inordinately happy, even if I know damn well that, six weeks from now, I’ll be so sick of the stuff I’ll just be dreading getting up in the mornings, let alone going out in the mess.

Still, I’ve had “Happy Holidays (Happy Holidays)” floating through my head all morning. I know it’s really just an old hotel add that’s been revamped into something about santa, but I hear “While the merry bells keep ringing, may your wishes all come true” and can sub that piece into a secular-solstice Mp3 list any day of the week.

It’ll be winter solstice before you know it – I’ve got a party to plan, a supper to coordinate, cookies, chocolate barks, and fudge (easy-style, done with condensed milk) to prepare, and a LOT of presents to finish. Hoy!

Off and running!
Meliad, the Birch Maiden.

Hot Balsamic Cabbage Salad (Good for a Cold Night)

Okay. I’m tired, I’ve had a crabby evening, and my feet hurt. So I’m posting another cabbage recipe because it’s quick and easy (to post, but also to make), and writing about food tends to cheer me up.


Hot Balsamic Cabbage Salad

Combine in a sauce pan:
1 tbsp cooking oil (or butter, if you prefer)
1/2 C apple juice
2 C shredded green cabbage
1/4 C fennel, sliced into thin strips
1/4 C leeks, diced (white part only)
1/4 C fresh cranberries

Heat to boiling, then allow to simmer, covered, for 20 minutes (stirring occasionally to keep things from sticking).

Set aside:
1 apple, diced
1/4 C walnuts, crumbled AND/OR 1 tbsp hulled pumpkin seeds (toast either/both of them, if you like)

For the dressing:
In a glass measure combine (whisking until very well mixed):
1 tbsp pumpkin seed butter
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp sunflower oil (or other neutral-tasting cooking oil)
1/8 tsp each: cayenne pepper and salt
Up to 1/4 C apple juice (to taste)

Drain the cabbage mixture. Add the reserved apple and walnuts, and toss the whole shebang with the dressing until it’s all well-coated.

Serve, still warm, with whatever else you desire (I still say pork goes best with cabbage, but ymmv), or enjoy it on its own.


And, with that, it’s off for a soak in the tub for me. Possibly with epsom salts and/or some kind of perk-me-up essential oil.

Meliad the Birch Maiden.

Not an Entirely Typical Post – Trans Day of Remembrance 2011

So, yesterday was Trans Day of Remembrance.

There’s a vigil in Ottawa (and in numerous other places) every year, but I’ve never been to one before. Typically, I’ve stayed home, lit up my altars, and blogged about death rates and worried about the sex-working, trans women in my extended phamily because that particular demographic is at really high risk for violence[1].

This year, however, my girlfriend and I went down to the Human Rights Monument and joined the crowd of people quietly trying to light candles in a pretty stiff wind[2]. I saw a lot of familiar faces – doing the reading and in the crowd – and was glad to see a group from POWER among them.

A vigil is a pretty straight-forward thing. In this case, people took turns reading the names of hundreds (hundreds!) of the dead – mostly sex-working women of colour, many with “no name reported” listed where their names should have been – accompanied by a fiddler. The Human Rights Monument wasn’t built with acoustics in mind. Between that, the wind, and the busy road beside us, it was hard to hear everyone’s name, but they read them all.

Now, as you know bob, I’m kind of a bunker when it comes to this stuff. It takes a lot of energy in a place for me to pick up on anything Going On. But something was happening.
The litany of names actually made me think of the invocation where you chant the names of your ancestors, or the many names of The Goddess (for you less polytheistic folks out there) in order to call them/Her in.

My Ghost, who is significantly more sensitive to energetic/spiritual stuff than I am, said she felt drunk afterwards, and hung over this morning.
I’m not surprised. If I started slipping into trance-state[3], I expect it would have hit her — and a few other energy-sensitive folks I know from the wider local Pagan/Heathen/Animist/Polytheist community — like a hammer.

Consequently, I find myself wondering how many people reading this have had similar experiences at similar events.

Drop me a comment and let me know.

Meliad the Birch Maiden

Floating candles, lit.

[1] Although I will point out that the sex-working, trans women in my extended phamily are (a) white, and (b) doing low-mid volume, indoor, GFE escorting and/or porn, rather than, say, street-based survival sex; which means they’re at much lower risk for violence than a lot of other women in that same demographic.

[2] Actual temperature was about 2 degrees celcius, but the wind chill brought it down into sub-zero without any difficulty at all. My Ghost, always one for gallows humour, says to me, deadpan: “It’s Trans Day of Remembrance, the day on-which we gather together to remember those trans people who froze to death at last year’s Trans Day of Remembrance vigil”.

[3] I do that think where you start rocking back and forth — it happens, more often than not, when someone/something needs a door (for lack of a better word) when invited/invoked during ritual.

Honey Pots – The Continuing Saga

So I’m kind of a fan of bottle spells. They’re quick, they’re simple, they keep on going and going. It’s good.

I have a honey pot on one of my altars that I light up every now and then[1], and which continues to work. YAY! I’m currently looking at doing up a couple of come-hither spells. They’re essentially the same as a honey-pot — jar + ingredients + candles/incense + Intent — but a little more specific in terms of an end-goal.

For example, my partner is looking to go back into business for herself, and I’m looking to do up a bottle spell that’ll bring enthusiastic and reliable clients to her on a regular basis.

For a customizable “bring me clients/customers” bottle spell, I would suggest:

honey (required — sweetens any deal)
hair of the person who is seeking clients/customers
cedar, copper pennies, and black pepper for money and protection
rolled oats for abundance
a few things that are relevant to the person’s business[2].

I find it also helps to include a written statement of exactly what you’re looking for, just to make sure everything is clear (both inside the bottle and, more to the point, in your own head. It’s a good way to focus your Intent).

Seal the bottle with wax and have the person-in-question light candles on the lid of it, ideally regularly, while getting their act together and going about their business.

In theory, at least, it should work. 🙂

Meliad the Birch Maiden.

[1] Which, I gather, is poor practice, as the candle offering is what feeds the spell and gives it its juice. Far better to run it regularly than to “save it for emergencies” only to find out that, effectively, there’s no gas in the tank, right?

[2] For example, I might include a house-key and a cupboard door-pull for someone who was offering custom kitchens;
A vanilla bean, some massage/olive oil, and a few drops of red glitter nail polish for someone who was looking for salon (or, heck, foot-fetish) clients;
A folded up piece of sheet music plus a few coffee beans for a pro musician looking for more paid gigs at coffee houses.

I can’t see // What’s right in front of me…

I have a friend whose patron deity lives in a particular spot in her house – her perch, if you will.  Unlike my own gods (who are on the Very Small side, afaik), her Lady is a big name goddess who’s been around for a LONG time.
Her perch was pointed out to me.
But I didn’t feel a thing.

Well, maybe a bit of a tickle, although I got more of that from her altar-space than from the perch.

This is pretty much par for the course with me.

To hear my friends tell it, my house is FULL of little spirits, small gods, guardians, and the occasional ancestor (most typically my Dad, by the sounds of it). But I’m  rarely aware enough of them to feel so much as a stirring in the air or a tickle at the back of my mind.

Part of me is deeply relieved about this.  It’s a one-bedroom apartment.  Two humans, two jade plants, a philodendron, a miniature rose, occasional unwelcome and tenacious insects (aargh), and one, small parrot are MORE than enough (especially with regard to the insect populations) lives to fill that space.  I’m glad my non-corporeal family is in the house, too.  But I’m also glad that I’m not trying to slide between them on my way from the bedroom to the kitchen, or out onto the balcony with the watering can in hand.

The other part of me, though, is sad (or something like it).  I feel like I’m walking through life blind, rather than walking through life with my eye-protection on – which is what folks who can’t stop seeing/hearing/experiencing the non-corporeal world may feel is called for.

Part of me wants to find a way to open those doors (or eyes, as the case may be), but I’m afraid that, if I find one, there won’t be a way for me close them again and, for all intents and purposes, I’ll basically Go Crazy. Which would not be good. :-\

Thoughts? Suggestions? Anybody?

Meliad the Birch Maiden.

Chocolate Pumpkin Creme Brulee

I put the garden to bed today. The dried vines and stalks have been pulled up (they’re in a rather messy pile on the balcony, just now), the lids have been sealed, and the bins have been rotated – next year, the beans and squash will have a really good view, and the tomatoes will be tucked between the two patio doors (not sure what’s going in the third one).


I have (from the grocery store) fennel, beets, cabbage, Yukon gold potatoes, baby red potatoes (that I feel I should just plant, honestly), red onions, garlic, leeks, and ¼ of a butternut squash, all sitting in my crisper.


Tonight, I’m doing a London Broil[1] and serving it with the butternut squash, some sort of potato-related item (probably pre-fab gnocchi[2]), and maybe the last of the spinach. I’m also going to (try and) do a pumpkin crème brulee, possibly with a little bit of chocolate in it (recipe below).


It’s… weird. I’ll take it, but it’s weird: It’s about 15C outside today, which is absurdly warm for mid-November. I’m not complaining – as one who walks to work, it’s nice to be doing it without shivering – but it worries me. There should be skins of ice on the morning puddles by now. :-\




Chocolate Pumpkin Crème Brulee

Combine in a sauce pan, and heat on VERY low heat until chocolate is melted:
1 tbsp butter
½ C semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 C thick pumpkin puree

While the chocolate is melting, take a small bowl and blend together:
2 C half-and-half cream
4 eggs
½ C brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
Pinch salt

Transfer the custard mixture to a second sauce pan and heat, on low, stirring gently until the mixture thickens and coast the back of a spoon well.

As the mixture begins to thicken, slowly add the chocolate mixture to it, stirring until mixture is thick and well-combined.

Pour the mixture into buttered ramekins (or some other oven-proof glass dish(es), whatever).

Turn the oven on to 300F.

Set the dish(es) of custard in an oven-proof pan of water (so that the water goes up at least one inch – this helps everything cook evenly and – iirc – contributes a bit to the velvety text, if you were wondering).

Bake for about one hour (maybe a little bit less – keep an eye on it).

After removing from the oven, sprinkle custards carefully with brown sugar.

Break out the crème brulee torch[3] and caramelize the sugar.

Chill for a few minutes in the fridge to let the caramelized sugar harden up.

Serve and enjoy.


Meliad the Birch Maiden

[1] Essentially, it’s a jelly-roll made of meat. You pound out a steak, spread it thickly with ground, seasoned meat-of-your-choice (typically it’s pork, but it could be lamb or something, too), and roll it up on itself. The you broil it. Delicious! 😀

[2] Potato-based things that are somewhere between pasta and dumplings.

[3] If you don’t have one of these, you will need to speed-chill the custard dish(es), then pack them in ice and put the sugared-cups under the broiler (at, like, 500F) for a couple of minutes.

Returning to Root Time

It’s that time of year again.
We’ve passed the threshold and are now moving deeper in to the “root” side of the year. We got our first snow (didn’t stick around, but just wait for it) yesterday, no less.

When I say “Root Time”, I mean it in a couple of different ways. I mean, on the one hand, we’re going to be eating a lot of root veggies for the next six months – bring on the beets, celeriac[1], heimischer[2], sunchokes, and salsify[3] – so there’s that.

But it’s also the time of year when we, like the perennials and the bears, hunker down, live off our stores, and turn inward towards our dreams.

Winter is a great time for planning, rehashing, and taking stock.

What do you have left to do as we head towards Winter Solstice and secular New Year’s? What have you accomplished, harvested, and put by over the course of the expansive, fruitful time we’ve just been through?

I’ve increased the number of clients, and frequency of gigs, I have as a model; published a poem (only one, but still); collared my partner and started making a home with her; brought a nationally renowned award-winning author to the stage of my poetry show; learned how to make pickles, jelly, cranberry curd, and chutney; made a functioning Honey Pot; and gotten better at reading tarot cards.

What about you? 🙂

Meliad the Birch Maiden.

[1] Celery root (om nom nom)

[2] Parsley root (looks like a really pale parsnip, tastes… nutty?)

[3] Looks like a black carrot, tastes a bit like oysters. Who knew?

Autumnal (Energetic) Clean-Up

Wow. So yesterday’s post went over well. 🙂 That’s awesome. 🙂

Today, however, I’m back to talking about magic. And clutter. And not just physical clutter.
I live in a one-bedroom apartment with my partner and a (small, but very chatty) parrot. It’s generally wonderful, but, every now and then, it can feel a little crowded. By our Stuff.
As someone who works from home – and who has recently started working half-days outside the house[1] – this can get a bit tricky. My home is my sanctuary. It’s also my Office. At the same time. And, if I’m getting behind in my work, the clutter that comes with living in your work-space (and working in your living-space) really, REALLY starts getting under my skin.
My young lady came home to me last night only to discover a Dome of Gloom hovering over my head. It gets like that. I sat down in my Writing Chair this morning only to realize that I’d basically formed a Wall Of Paperwork between myself and the rest of the house so that I wouldn’t have to Deal With It.

It gets like that from time to time, typically after a particularly busy period.

That, combined with it being Year Hinge Time and our having made the shift from expansive-summer-brain to nesting-winter-brain means that my space really needs a good clean. And by that, I don’t just mean getting the mopping done and the back-splash scrubbed. I mean Cleaned as in Energetically/Psychically/Magically cleaned up.

And, yeah, there’s a physical component to that. It includes watering all the plants, changing out the candles on the altars[4], cleaning up the incense dust and, in my case, finally getting around to doing a (big) boiling water offering.

But those physical components all basically add up to paying attention to the energy, and the non-corporial people, in your space, giving them a little bit of love and acknowledgement, and helping them to feel pretty and important to you[5].

So, yeah. Energetic clean-up is what’s on my my agenda for today. 🙂

Meliad the Birch Maiden.

[1] A situation which is both (a) awesome, because it means that I actually leave the house, and (b) crappy, because it means that I must leave the house, which cuts out a minimum of 4 hours/day that I might otherwise be able to spend doing basic magical (or otherwise) upkeep around the house[2].

[2] My relationship, in addition to being a romance, is a full-time power-exchange — the housework isn’t my job at all. None the less, there are things I take on (sometimes, or always) basically out of the kindness of my heart[3] and which, of late (due to both the half-days thing and the Nanowrimo thing), I haven’t had anywhere near the opportunity to really stay on top of.

[3] If O/p or D/s or other forms of voluntary, negotiated full-time power-exchange is something you’re curious about, or something you’d like to understand better, go check out Syrens, where I’m basically blogging All Power-Exchange, All The Time for the month of November. Enjoy! 😀

[4] Which I did… about half an hour ago, and the place already feels brighter, more perked up, and more awake. I didn’t even light anything. I just paid attention. That’s something worth noting, I think. 🙂

[5] Which, y’know, presumably they are, but it’s nice to get up and say it every now and then. 🙂