Monthly Archives: November 2015

#Recipe: Peanut-Butter Pecan Chocolate Chip Muffins (with sour milk & cooked amaranth)

So I had half a gallon of milk go off on me in the fridge the other day. Not something I was expecting, but not the end of the world. Usually, when this happens, there’s only about a litre to work with, and I usually just turn it into pancakes (which is where the other 4-5C are probably going to go, honestly, tomorrow morning) but I was on my own today and wanted to bake something, so I decided to make muffins.
 
Turns out I’m also out of eggs.
 
This is also not the end of the world. Add extra levener (baking powder, for example), use a solid fat rather than a liquid one, and add a few tablespoons of nut/seed butter for the sticky-protein that makes a binder when you’re baking.
 
Both of the recipes that I based today’s offering on called for leftover oatmeal. I’m not really a poridge person, so I don’t tend to have leftover oatmeal lying around, but I decided to use cooked amaranth (cooked in some of the sour milk, no less) instead, since it also firms up as a it cools.
 
The end result (only a few minutes out of the oven, while still warm) is cakey & rich-feeling, but not too sweet. The amaranth (once baked) adds a nice crunch, too.
 
Here you go. 😀
 
 
~*~
 
Peanut-Butter Pecan Chocolate Chip Muffins
 
INGREDIENTS
 
3C flour
¾ C brown sugar
¼ C cocoa
2 tbsp baking powder
1 tbsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
 
½ C peanut butter (use half if you want to add 1 egg to the recipe)
½ C margarine (use half if you want to add 1 egg to the recipe)
1 tbsp vanilla
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
2 C cooked amaranth (cook in further sour milk)
 
1 C sour milk
 
½ pecans
½ C chocolate chips
 
 
DIRECTIONS
 
Cook 1C raw amaranth in 2C sour milk (or water, if you don’t have tonnes of sour milk lying around – you can also use left-over cooked oatmeal for this if you want, though I haven’t tried that route).
 
Mix the dry ingredients together in a big bowl.
 
Mix the peanut-butter, margarine, vanilla, and vinegar together in a 2C measuring cup
 
Spoon the peanut-butter mixture into the middle of the dry ingredients.
 
Pour the hot, cooked amaranth over the peanut-butter mixture (this will get it to melt a little)
 
Mix everything together lightly
 
Add 1C sour milk to the mixture
 
Mix everything together until it’s smooth and there aren’t any streaks of flour in it
 
Add the pecans and chocolate chips and mix in lightly
 
Scoop by the heaping spoonful into muffin cups (I use paper liners, but you do you)
 
Bake at 400F for 20 minutes
 
Allow to cool at least a little before diving in.
Makes ~24 muffins (I got 23, but ymmv).
 
 
~*~
 
I’m thoroughly enjoying these goodies (I’ve had three, in the space of about half a hour, just so you know) and will have to remember to leave room for turkey wings and sunchokes and similar (to be cooked around 7pm for a late dinner).
 
 
TTFN,
Meliad the Birch Maiden.

Elemental Tarot Spread (Possibly Something About Relationships??)

Maybe it’s the part where Daylight Savings Time ends right around the same time as Samhain hits and we cross the line into Root Time again, but ye gods the dark falls fast these days! Tonight – because it’s Friday – the altar candles are lit. I’m writing this by candle-light (and modem light, and lap-top light). I’ve got incense burning for the ancestors – Sumaya Ysl, Les Feinberg, Xanthra Phillipa McKay, and all who died this year – because it’s TDOR. Mhyrr, and also a “root chakra” blend that calls up survival and stability.
Fabulous Friday Dinner is in the oven, baking since 4:30 and won’t be served until some time around 8pm, so it’s cooking low and slow and I hope it ends up good. Chicken with green tomato chutney that I made with all the tomatoes still on the vines after the first big frost hit, and another dozen or so jerusalem artichokes (there are so many still in the baskets in the bottom of my fridge – I may need to make up a big batch of jerusalem artichoke soup and see if it freezes well). There is wine chilling in the fridge, and gingerbread cookies from the culinary students at the school I modeled for this morning.
I’ve been talking to my long-distance partner over text-message while I wait for my lives-with-me partner to get home (see above re: around 8pm), and trying to warm up again, since the (weirdly balmy) weather of yesterday has turned back to much more seasonally appropriate (read: cold) temperatures today.
 
I decided to do a quick, mostly for the heck of it, tarot spread, just to try it out.
 
Not long ago, I mentioned a tarot spread that offers some State Of The You perspective based on the four elements.
So I shuffled my deck and tossed out the cards.
 
What I was thinking while I was shuffling was: Everything seems pretty good right now. I’m in a good place emotionally, and my people are… as okay as they can be, under the circumstances. So… let’s have a check-in. What’s up with me, right now?
 
And this is what I got:
 
Querant: New Visions (12 of MA), Upright
 
Situation: Sharing (Quee of Fire – Woohoo!), Reversed
Crossed with: Playfulness (Page of Fire) Reversed
 
I Think: Ice-Olation (3 of Air), Reversed
I Feel: Stress (7 of Fire), Upright
I Will: Experienceing (3 of Fire), Reversed
I Am: Projections (7 of Water), Reversed
 
Advisor: The Source (Ace of Fire), Reversed
Overarching Influences: Healing (King of Water), Upright
Underlying Influences: Thunderbolt (16 of MA), Upright
Clarification Card for Underlying, because WTF: Patience (7 of Earth), Reversed

 
Lots of 7s and 3s in this spread. And a tonne of Fire cards.
Threes, I know, are (1) connected with The Empress (who, in this deck, is called Creativity), and (2) are “Getting the Hang of It” cards, in the sense that “three is a pattern”.
Sevens, on the other hand, are connectect to The Chariot (“Awareness”), its “get up (or maybe wake up) and go”, but also the ideas of (a) arguing with yourself (or someone else) & making some decisions in order to get where you need to be going, and (b) things that you’ve been working on just starting to bear fruit: “You’re getting there, but you’re not there yet”, and (c) the waking of (new? dormant?) desires – Less in terms of a “seven year itch” and more like dangling a carrot on a string in front of a reluctant horse to get it to go where you want.
 
My Querant Card is New Vision – the Hanged Man – basically a call for new perspectives or… a period of Hanging Around waiting for results. I’m kind of hoping for the former, actually, unless this is a clue that one of those resumes I sent out is going to get me somewhere. (Ha. Ha. Ha. …)
 
I am – as ever – chuffed all to heck to see the Queen of Fire, well, anywhere in a spread. This is the Hostess With The Mostess, the Domme who actually feels power-full rather than the insecure twerp (the King of Air, ) who’s all puffed up with ego but really quite clueless as to how to actually rule. That it’s crossed with Playfulness is… Either a reference to my need to not freak out so much about Using My Words, or else it has something to do with finding joy in creativity. Thoughts?
 
I’m not particularly surprised that my “I Think” card is an air card. That’s the suit of “I Think” anyway, so no big shock there. That said, between it and the other 3 in this spread – my “I Will” card (a fire card, conveniently) – I’m inclined to read these as a “getting the hang of using my words” situation. Getting the hang of being vulnerable. Getting the hang of showing it when I want something instead of making the subtlest of bids possible and hoping that I get some sort of response that says “you can take another step towards [goal]”.
 
I Feel: Stress. Well, no kidding. That’s an easy one.
The less-easy one is I Am. I Am: Projections.
I don’t really understand that one. I Am… arguing with myself about what I can reasonably expect from life/employers/partners? I am… telling myself nasty lies about What Other People Think that are really just my brain being a jerk to me? But how do emotional projections figure into an earth/stability/physical/food/money/land kind of framework? Is this stuff about assuming that nobody will hire me to do [stuff] even though I’m super-qualified? Is this stuff about valuing/not-valuing my own skillsets? Thoughts?
 
My Advisor Card is all Passion and Creativity! which… has been the case for some time, so maybe I should get on that?
My Influences cards are… a little unexpected. I mean, the King of Water and I are old companions, sure, but this one is upright (suggesting stuff going on outside my own head/heart) and it’s coupled with the Thunderbolt (Tower) card – also upright. I’m not sure what that’s about. I mean, I’ve got a theory, because someone in my life just had the rug pulled out from under them in slo-mo, but… this was also supposed to be a reading about ME ME ME, so… beh? I pulled a clarification card, and got the 7 of Earth (Patience), Reversed. Which, yes, back to me. But I guess… Healing takes some time when the world’s just fallen apart? Okay. I can work with that.
 
Anyway. That was my reading. If people want to weigh in, they can go ahead.
 
 
TTFN,
Meliad the Birch Maiden.

New Moon – Frost Moon Begins (Notice It, When You’re Getting What You Ask For)

I turned 36 a little over a week ago.
I ended up spending it Holding Still For As Long As Possible (25 minutes at a time) doing a two-full-day modeling job at a new drawing studio in town. It was a good gig, and I hope she’ll have me back next semester.
It feels strange to have not marked my birthday in a bigger way. A year ago, I was really hung up on the fact that, for the 3rd year in a row, my birthday had been pre-empted/over-shadowed by a local leather event and I was soooo determined that this year I would have Fuss.
… And then a whole bunch of Extenuating Circumstances happened, and my birthday “big event” ended up being having a quiet dinner in with my wife and two of her other partners. It was a really pleasant meal, and it also felt strange. Like “Why are my people not around me right now?”
 
I did get a surprise visit from my out-of-town partner – for reasons that had nothing to do with my birthday, although we did make a point of eating cake together to celebrate it, which was nice. I did get take out by a friend (currently in Berlin) who brought me to a fancy spa for a day in the hot tubs. I did get taken out for lunch by a friend who just wanted to check in with me, and didn’t even know it had been my birthday two days earlier. So I have had some fuss directed my way, and that’s been nice.
…And I still kind of want to have a party. Possibly in early December. I could call it my “unbirthday party” or something and have people out for martinis or similar.
Still. I got something that I asked for. Look at that. O.O
 
The past 10 days have involved changing up our home a little bit. My wife and I put up (most of) our art and (some, though nowhere near all, of) our ancestor pictures. We tidied the kitchen, emptied (again) the front room and started using it as a dining room. It’s also going to be a music-and-fibre-arts space, but that’ll come. We’ve got most of the furniture sorted out. I just need to add an extenion cord and my loom, and then I can start filling up my new book case with small bins of yarn, roving, fabric and books on sewing and self-suficiency (profided they’ll fit -I think I can make it work)… which will mean that my craft cabinet can hold my beading supplies and some of my less-frequently-used candle-making supplies, too.
 
I can’t tell you how good it feels to eat dinner at a table like a fucking grown up.
We haven’t had a (usable, available) dining room table since we got married. Right now, my big, drop-leaf table lives in our kitchen and is basically being used as a shelf. I want to get it cleared off so that it can be a functional work-surface that gets cleaned & tidied on the regular. That’s going to take some doing, but I think it can be done. Maybe even before Frost Moon is full (wouldn’t that be great? That would be great!)
 
If feels a bit like things are moving more freely in the house because of what we’ve done recently. My sewing scissors came back to me. I’m starting (in bits and pieces) to be able to Feel My Feelings on fronts where I’d been pushing them away – like pushing away good feelings that I want to experience out of fear that, in letting myself feel them, I’d just be setting myself up for more pain. I’m doing Sofia’s self-forgiveness challenge which… is definitely challenging, I don’t mind telling you.
I feel like I’ve been kind of a massive failure at adulting this year. Like I was supposed to get the hang of so many things, and I just didn’t. But I recently re-read a post from a little over a year ago and here’s what I said I wanted from 2015:
 

I want 2015 to be a year of (a) reliable, steady part-time employment (and, as such, income!), but also a year of (b) writing, and (c) food-ing – garden, kitchen, feasting and preserves, you name it. There are other things. All of my Shadow Stuff is going to have to keep happening. I want there to be enough modeling, mixed in with all the rest of it, to keep me happy (and in cash, and in art). I want there to be lots of sewing and fibre-arts-ing, lots of Making All The Things. Without having to worry about whether or not I’ll be able to sell them somewhere.

 
…And that’s basically what it’s looked like.
The part-time work hasn’t been steady, but it’s been available when I needed it: Repeat single-day contracts from close-to-home reception clients who requested me specifically. A few months of 10 hours/week doing data entry from home that let me pay my rent all through the summer.
I’ve been mostly (if barely) supporting myself with modeling work – which is amazing – and have a LOT of modeling coming up (starting in a few hours!) this week.
I’ve spent most of this year growing my garden, keeping people fed, and making preserves.
I’ve fallen in love with a new person, whom I hadn’t even met when I wrote the post I just quoted.
I’m maybe, possibly, starting to get the hang of making Secret Project X work out the way I want it to (fingers massively crossed – we’ll see what happens on this front, as it may be just a fluke).
I (self-)published a chapbook and have continued to work on my “How To Cook a Heart” poetry manuscript, with an eye to the kind of themes I want to explore.
I finished two weaving projects on my loom, and I know what sewing projects I’m going to do in order to incorporate them into further work. I finished my fetish shawl in time to wear it during Unholy Harvest.
My wife is offering me a way to (a) help her out, while (b) making some money for myself through Making Things With My Hands, which I think will be good thing for me to do.
 
… I think I’m sort of getting what I want.
 
Which is scary as fuck, I don’t mind telling you.
 

Scense From My Brain:
Me (wonderingly): … I think I’m sort of getting what I want…
Frightened Self: AUGH!!!
Reasonable Self: Uh…? What’s up with the flailing? Isn’t this a good thing?
Frightened Self: But if I get everything I want, then–
Reasonable Self: …then?
Frightened Self: then… then… I’ll be… happy?
Reasonable Self: … Is that a bad thing? To be happy?
Frightened Self: … Yes? Won’t something bad happen to me if I’m happy? Won’t I get punished? Won’t some huge hand from out of the sky come and break me into a thousand pieces and take away everyone I love and everything I’ve ever done and leave me destitute and alone and friendless and starving in the cold?
Mama Self: Oh, honey… Baby girl, listen to me. You are not going to get punished for feeling happy, for asking for what you want, for letting people love you, for shining as bright as you are, for singing like you do. You are not Oliver Twist. And this is not elementary school. You are alowed to want. And you are alowed to have. You remember Leah’s poem? About how a femme with her legs open, asking for more than a kick or a slur, is a blessing?
If you open your arms (your hands, your legs) and ask, say what you want, you are not going to get beaten down for the asking.

 
The thing is… I don’t know how to finish that Mama Self thought. I don’t know how to say “what will happen instead of getting kicked”. I’m afraid I’d be lying to myself if I said “when you ask, you will receive”. I’m not even sure if saying “I will take care of you” will make a difference, if that’s even a promise I can make myself. If that’s even the point.
 
Liz Worth has an elemental tarot spread that goes:
I feel
I think
I will
I am

And I think that, if I were to pull those cards for myself right now (not happening – I need to leave for work shortly), that my Will card would be so scrambled. So much of magic – whether we’re talking Glamour or talking Changing Conciousness At Will – is knowing what you want. And I am SO afraid to want, let alone to voice those wants. The Queen of Cups is something that I wish I could be. Open. Receptive. Ready and waiting and knowing, trusting, she’ll be filled. I want it to be safe for me to receive.
 
Now how the hell do I make that happen?

Full Moon – Shadow Moon Crests

I’m writing this late.
Feel like I’ve been neglecting my Religious Blog a LOT, and neglecting my spirit a little bit in so doing.
Shadow Moon crested just before Samhain, and all my own shadows came out to get me. All the fears that I need TOO MUCH, that I want TOO MUCH, that I am TOO MUCH, that nobody (against all evidence to the contrary) could possibly want me, being the giant ball of dorkish misery and bottemless needing that I am.
Getting in my own way again.
I am trying to stitch together a quilt that will let me take care of myself and that will also let me collaborate with people. It feels super preliminary right now, and I’m running up against a lot of Emotional/Mental Stuff around money, value, sharing, and the fear that collaborating with people will boil down to me being taken advantage of on some level. I don’t really even know where that comes from, but it’s definitely sitting in there like a boil. 😦
I don’t like it.
I think this might relate to the stuff in my tarot reading about “what are you afraid of”. (Ya think?)
 
The full moon saw me digging up my jerusalem artichokes (I now have a couple of gallons worth sitting in my fridge and needing to be eaten quickly – next year, I may make a point of digging them up one plant at a time, so as not to get overwhelmed) and freezing more kale and chard. There is still kale and chard in the garden (that need to be harvested, blanched, and frozen), along with sage and oregano that need to be harvested and drie, but mostly the garden is cut down. I need to put it to bed, ideally before the next full moon (which is coming on fast, I’m afraid).
 
My We’Moon date book talks about shadow wisdom, about needing to accept and show the parts of yourself that you kind of wish you could just cut out and be rid of. Sofia Wren (and SJ Tucker, for that matter) talks about needing to forgive yourself for your light, for being big and bold and bright and noticeable. And I want to take a deeper look into that. Maybe now’s the time.
 
 
Meliad, the Birch Maiden.

New Moon – Shadow Moon Begins

The nights come faster now. I’m reading Leah Lakshmi Piepszna-Samarasinha’s memoir, Dirty River, and the cadence of her writer’s voice is slipping into mine.
 
My We’Moon day-planner for 2016 arrived in the mail the other day, and I read my horoscope for the coming year.
Woman, you need to get your material/financial security under control, because what you’ve spent the last year doing is not going to be enough for the long haul. Figure out what resources you’ve got, restructure your finances, figure this stuff out because it’s time, and you’re not getting any younger.
 
At least, that’s what I took from it.
 
Did a tarot reading this morning, asking “Right, so… Financial and Material Security… How do I do that? How do I get there?”
And what came up was:
(A) You have let opportunities slip by in the past[1]
(B) Right now things are emotionally pretty good, but don’t burn yourself out
(C) There are new possibilities on the horizon, but you may need to squint, or change perspective, to actually see them. They involve Creating, and this could go in a few directions. What are you afraid of? (See: “F”).
(D) You need to stop believing that you have to do everything yourself, you need to stop isolating yourself and pretending that you have no back-up
(E) You’re feeling like you’re juggling All The Things and like you can’t focus in one area without letting all the other spinning plates drop, BUT what is actually going on is that you’re just totally getting in your own way. Those stories about what makes you valueable? Let them go. They’re not helping you and they’re not accurate anyway. (How do I do that?[2])
(F) What are you afraid of? Feeling? Trusting? Believing people have your back or that you can do The Thing? What’s up with that and where’s it coming from?
(G) Getting this stuff under control will lead to (or possbly require?) Letting Go of all that crap about how you’re afraid of what your mother will think, and all that stuff about how you think things are “supposed to” go or look or whatever. (Good luck with that).
(H) Take this reading in the context of partnerships, collaboration, and connection (I drew The Lovers as my advisor card). You have a lot of potential for growth and success here, but you need to wake up and make some decisions. That also means knowing your limits and not wearing yourself out on all of those “supposed to” things[3].
 
I still don’t know where things are pointing.
Isn’t that the way it goes? It’s either so painfully obvious – whether you want to hear it or not, whether you listen or not – or it’s just “Okay, yes, but I need HELP. Are you talking about writing, or something else??”
 
I do tarot readings when I don’t know what to do. Isn’t that why most of us do magic? To tip the odds, as much as we can, in our favour? To put a little more power – and knowledge is power – in our corners?
 
I’ve started looking for part-time reception/admin work (again). The kind of thing I can get without the dubious help of an agency. We’ll see what happens.
 
 
Meliad.
 
 
[1] I pulled a bunch of cards about this one asking “Yeah, but what opportunity? What is this about?” and what I got was “Transformation” (the death card), followed by a fire card that I don’t remember off the top of my head, followed by “Clinging to the Past” which… I figured was just the deck telling me to focus on the future with this one because I can’t change what’s already happened, so cut it out with the “what if, what if, what if”.
 
[2] The card I pulled to clarify this, to find out how to let that stuff go, was the Queen of Earth. Flowering. Lakshmi. I feel like I’m flatering myself, or possibly lying to myself, when I say this but… If I was doing this reading for someone else? I would look at that card and go: “Honey, you need to recognize that you’re capable here. You know how to manage money, you know how to forage and harvest and put things up for the winter. You can be practical, organized, and make things happen that benefit you. You can do this. You just have to recognize that and get to it.” Which, yeah, would mean getting out of my own way. Okay.
 
[3] I’ve arranged my life in a way that means I rarely have to leave the house if I don’t want to. I can take long baths. I work casual hours and, frequently, from home. I avoid walking down busy streets, I avoid crowds, I avoid having to deal with people (meaning plural, and meaning “possibly hostile” and “unfamiliar”) for more than 15 hours in a given week. I make a lot of food from scratch, food that takes time, because it’s cheaper to buy the slow-cooking stuff (roots, cabbage, shoulder-roasts), to buy the flour, yeast, salt, oil, than to buy something already made or fancier, and also because I have the time to spend on cooking food from scratch. I’m more than a little worried about what kind of a Fragile Flower I’d turn out to be if I was doing the kind of work that, yeah, paid me (not likely very much – see:baggage), but that didn’t let me protect myself like this.