Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Happy New Year!

I just wanted to wish everyone a happy New Year's! I hope everyone had a great Yule/Christmas or whatever holiday you celebrate!

May this new year bring wonderment, success, and happiness to you!

See you all again on the 4th!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Santa's Wisdom to Pagans


Santa's Wisdom to Pagans

Author unknown


We had a nice, serene kind of Solstice Circle. No jingling bells or faked-out Christmas Carols. Soon after the last coven member left, Jack was ready to pack it in."The baby's nestled all snug in her bed," he said with a yawn, "I think I'll go settle in for a long winter's nap."I heaved a martyred sigh. He grinned unrepentantly, kissed me, called me a grinch, and went to bed.


I stayed up and puttered around the house, trying to unwind. I sifted through the day's mail, ditched the flyers urging us to purchase all the Seasonal Joy we could afford or charge. I opened the card from his parents. Another sermonette: a manger scene and a bible verse, with a handwritten note expressing his mother's fervent hope that God's love and Christmas spirit would fill our hearts in this blessed season. She means well, really. I amused myself by picking out every Pagan element I could find in the card.


When the mail had been sorted, I got up and started turning our ritual room back into a living room. As if the greeting card had carried a virus, I found myself humming Christmas carols. I turned on the classic rock station, but they were playing that Lennon-Ono Christmas song. I switched stations. The weatherman assured me that there was only a twenty percent chance of snow. Then, by Loki, the deejay let Bruce Springsteen insult my ears crooning,


"yah better watch out, yah better not pout."


I tried the Oldies station. Elvis lives, and he does Christmas songs. Okay, fine. We'll do classical ~ no, we won't. They're playing Handel's Messiah. Maybe the community radio station would have something secular humanist.


"Ahora, escucharemos a Jose Feliciano canta `Feliz Navidad'."


I was getting annoyed. The radio doesn't usually get this saturated with holiday mush until the twenty-fourth.


"This is too weird." I said to the radio, "Cut that crap out." The country station had some Kenny Rogers Christmas tune, the first rock station had gone from John and Yoko's Christmas song to Simon and Garfunkel's "Silent Night," and the other rock station still had Springsteen reliving his childhood.


"--I'm tellin' you why. Santa Claus is comin' to town!"


I was about to pick out a nice secular CD when there was a knock at the door. Now, it could have been a coven member who'd forgotten something. It could have been someone with car trouble. It could have been any number of things, but it certainly couldn't have been a stout guy in a red suit--snowy beard, rosy cheeks, and all--backed by eight reindeer and a sleigh. I blinked, wondered crazily where Rudolph was, and blinked again. There were nine reindeer. Our twenty-percent chance of snow had frosted the dead grass and was continuing to float down in fat flakes.


"Hi, Frannie." he said warmly, "I've missed you."


"I'm stone cold sober, and you don't exist."


He looked at me with a mixture of sorrow and compassion and sighed heavily.


"That's why I miss you, Frannie. Can I come in? We need to talk." I couldn't quite bring myself to slam the door on this vision, hallucination, or whatever. So I let him in, because that made more sense than letting all the cold air in while I argued with someone who wasn't there.


As he stepped in, a thought crossed my mind about various entities needing an invitation to get in houses. He flashed me a smile that would melt the polar caps.


"Don't you miss Christmas, Frannie?"


"No." I said flatly, "Apparently you don't see me when I'm sleeping and waking these days. I haven't been Christian for years."


"Oh, now don't let that stop you. We both know this holiday's older than that. Yule trees and Saturnalia and here-comes-the- sun, doodoodendoodoo.


"I raised an eyebrow at the Beatles reference, then gave him my standard sermonette on the appropriation and adulteration that made Christmas no longer a Pagan holiday. I had done my homework. I listed centuries, I named names--St.Nicholas among them.


"In the twentieth century version," I assured him, "Christmas is two parts crass commercialism mixed with one part blind faith in a religion I rejected years ago." I gave him my best lines, the ones that had convinced my coven to abstain from Christmassy clich├ęs. My hallucination sat in Jack's favorite chair, nodding patiently at me.


"And you," I added nastily, "come here talking about ancient customs when you--in your current form--were invented in the nineteenth century by, um...Clement C. Moore."


He laughed, a rolling, belly-deep chuckle unlike any department- store Santa I'd ever heard."Of course I change my form now and then to suit fashion. Don't you? And does that stop you from being yourself?" He said, and asked me if I remembered Real Magic, by Isaac Bonewits. I gaped at him for a moment, then caught myself.


"This is like `Labyrinth', right? I'm having a dream that pretends to be real, but is only made from pieces of things in my memory. You don't look a thing like David Bowie."


"Bonewits has this Switchboard Theory." Santa went on amiably, "The energy you put into your beliefs influences the real existence of the archetypal-- oh,let me put it simpler: "in the beginning, Man created God'. Ian Anderson.


"He lit a long-stemmed pipe. The tobacco had a mild and somehow Christmassy smell, and every puff sent up a wreath of smoke. "I'm afraid it's a bit more complicated than Bonewits tells it, but that's close enough for mortals. Are you with me so far?"


"Oh, sure." I lied as unconvincingly as possible.


Santa sighed heavily."When's the last time you left out hot tea and cookies for me?"


"When I figured out my parents were eating them."


"Frannie, Frannie. Remember pinda balls, from Hinduism?"


"Rice balls left as offerings for ancestors and gods."


"Do Hindus really believe that the ancestors and gods eat pinda balls?"


"All right, y'got me there. They say that spirits consume the spiritual essence, then mortals can have what's left."


"Mm-hm." Santa smiled at me compassionately through his snowy beard.


I rallied quickly. "What about the toys? I know for a fact they aren't made by you and a bunch of non-union Elves."


"Oh, that's quite true. Manufacturing physical objects out of magical energy is terribly expensive and breaks several laws of Nature--She only allows us to do that on special occasions. It certainly couldn't be done globally and annually. Now, the missus and the Elves and I really do have a shop at the North Pole. Not the sort of thing the Air Force would ever find. What we make up there is what makes this time a holiday, no matter what religion it's called."


"Don't tell me," I said, rolling my eyes, "you make the sun come back."


"Oh my, no. The solar cycle stuff, the Reason For The Season, isn't my department. My part is making it a holiday. We make a mild, non-addictive psychedelic thing called Christmas spirit. Try some."


He dipped his fingers in a pocket and tossed red-gold-green- silver glitter at me. I could have ducked. I don't know why I didn't.


It smelled like snow and pine needles, and cedar chips in the fireplace.

It smelled like fruitcake, cornbread savory herbal stuffing, like that foamy white stuff you spray on the window with stencils.

It felt like a crisp wind, Grandma's hugs, fuzzy new mittens, pine needles scrunching under my slippers.

I saw twinkle lights, mistletoe in the doorway, smiling faces from years gone by.

Several Christmas carols played almost simultaneously in a kind of medley.


I fought my way back to my living room and glared sternly at the hallucination in Jack's chair. "Fun stuff. Does the DEA know about this?"


"Oh, Frannie. Why are you such a hard case? I told you it's non-addictive and has no harmful side effects. Would Santa Claus lie to you?"


I opened my mouth and closed it again. We looked at each other a while."Can I have some more of that glittery stuff?"


"Mmmm. I think you need something stronger. Try a sugarplum."


I tasted rum ball.

Peppermint.

Those hard candies with the picture all the way through. Mama's favorite fudge.

A chorus line of Christmas candies danced through my mouth.

The Swedish Angel Chimes, run on candle power, say tingatingatingating.

Mama, with a funny smile, promised to give Santa my letter.

Greeting cards taped on the refrigerator door.

We rode through the tree farm on a straw-filled trailer pulled by a red and green tractor, looking for a perfect pine. It was so big, Daddy had to cut a bit off so the star wouldn't scrape the ceiling.

Lights, ornaments, tinsel.

Daddy lifted me up to the mantle to hang my stocking.

My dolls stayed up to see Santa Claus, and in the morning they all had new clothes.

Grandma carried in platters with the world's biggest Christmas dinner.

Joey's Christmas puppy chased my Christmas kitten up the tree and it would have fallen over but Daddy held it while Mama got the kitten out. Daddy said every bad word there was but he kept laughing anyway.

I sneaked my favorite plastic horse into the nativity scene, between the camels and the donkey.


I came back to reality slowly, with a silly smile on my face and a ticklyfeeling behind my eyes like they wanted to cry. The phrase "visions of sugarplums" took on a whole new meaning.


"How long has it been," Santa asked, "since you played with a nativity set?-"


"But it symbolizes-- "


"The winter-born king. The sacred Mother and her sun-child. Got a problem with that? You could redecorate it with pentagrams if you like, they'll look fine. As for the Christianization, I've heard who you invoke at Imbolc."


"But Bridgid was a Goddess for centuries before the Catholic Church-oh." I crossed my arms and tried to glare at him, but failed."You're a sneaky old Elf, y'know?"


"The term is `jolly old Elf.' Care for another sugarplum?"


I did.


I tasted gingerbread.

My first nip of soy eggnog the way the grown-ups drink it.

Fresh sugar cookies, shaped like trees and decked with colored frosting.

Dad had been laid off, but we managed a lot of cheer. They told us Christmas would be "slim pickings." Joey and I smiled bravely when Mama brought home that spindly spruce. We loaded down our "Charlie Brown Christmas Tree" with every light and ornament it could hold. Popcorn and cranberry strings for the outdoor trees. Mistletoe in the hall: plastic mistletoe, real kisses. Joey and I snipped and glued and stitched and painted treasures to give as presents. We agonized over our "Santa" letters...by now we knew where the goodies came from, and we tried to compromise between what we longed for and they thought they could afford. Every day we hoped the factory would reopen. When Joey's dog ate my mitten, I wasn't brave. I knew that meant I'd get mittens for Christmas, and one less toy. I cried. On December twenty-fifth we opened our presents ve-ery slo-wly, drawing out the experience. We made a show of cheer over our socks and shirts and meager haul of toys. I got red mittens. We could tell Mama and Daddy were proud of us for being so brave, because they were grinning like crazy.


"Go out to the garage for apples." Mama told us, "We'll have apple pancakes."


I don't remember having the pancakes. There was a dollhouse in the garage. No mass-produced aluminum thing but a homemade plywood dollhouse with wall-papered walls and real curtains and thread-spool chairs. My dolls were inside, with newly sewn clothes. Joey was on his knees in front of a plywood barn with hay in the loft. His old farm implements had new paint. Our plastic animals were corralled in Popsicle stick fences. The garage smelled like apples and hay, the cement was bone-chilling under my slippers, and I was crying.


My knees were drawn up to my chest, arms wrapped around them. My chest felt tight, like ice cracking in sunshine. Santa offered me a huge white handkerchief. When all the ice in my chest had melted, he cleared his throat. He was pretty misty-eyed, too.


"Want to come sit on my lap and tell me what you want for Christmas?"


"You've already given it to me." But I sat on his lap anyway, and kissed his rosy cheek until he did his famous laugh.


"I'd better go now, Frannie. I have other stops to make, and you have work to do."


"Right. I'd better pop the corn tonight, it strings best when it's stale."


I let him out the door. The reindeer were pawing impatiently at the moon-kissed new-fallen snow. I'd swear Rudolph winked at me.


"Don't forget the hot tea and cookies."


"Right. Uh, December twenty-fourth, or Solstice, or what?"


He shrugged. "Whatever night you expect me, I'll be there. Eh, don't wait up. Visits like this are tightly rationed. Laws of Nature, y'know, and She's strict with them."


"Gotcha. Thanks, Santa." I kissed his cheek again. "Happy Holidays." The phrase had a nice, non-denominational ring to it. I thought I'd call my parents and in-laws soon and try it out on them. Santa laid his finger aside of his nose and nodded.


"Blessed be, Frannie."The sleigh soared up, and Santa really did exclaim something. It sounded like old German. Smart-aleck Elf. When I closed the door, the radio was playing Jethro Tull's "Solstice Bells."

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Lazy Sunday Movie: The Polar Express


Ok, I know I keep mentioning this movie. But it is my favorite holiday movie. I love the premise. A little boy is having a "belief crisis" about Santa Claus. Does he exist? He has all this evidence that he doesn't. A picture of him pulling a department store Santa's beard off. Mechanical Santas in store windows. A definition of the North Pole as "devoid of life". Then on Christmas Eve he has a magical journey on a train that takes him to the North Pole to meet Santa. He meets different people on this train, fellow children (a little girl, a poor little boy, a know-it-all boy) the conductor, the engineers, and a hobo (ghost?).

While on the train he talks about Santa, does he exist? He wants to believe, but he doesn't want to be tricked. He doesn't want to find out it's all been a lie. He doesn't want to think he's been stupid for believing in something that doesn't exist.

All of the little boy's issues with Santa have been mirrored in my own spiritual journey this year. Is there a higher power? I have evidence that he/she doesn't, I didn't want to swallow a lie because everyone else believes. I am one that likes to be logical, rational, everything has a reason, a purpose. However, having had my beautiful daughter last year, I have started doubting all my logical and rational reasons for not believing in a higher power.

There has to be someone/something out there. Has to be. How else could the magic of life happen? The magic of conceiving, of carrying and growing a child in my womb, of delivering this living, breathing, giggling, smiling, laughing bundle of joy? It's too difficult for me to believe that this all is a happy coincidence.

So, now that I know there's a higher power, what form does it/he/she take?

I have issues with the traditional male patriarchal Christian idea of God. Issues going back to my early religious upbringing. Nothing against my parents, they put me in the best school they could afford. But being told constantly that what you do is wrong, you will always do wrong unless you believe/do exactly as you are told. Even then, humans are sinners. Ugh, enough.

I've done a lot of searching in my life. Which religious path is the one that speaks to me. Which one rings of truth? Well, none of them. So I decided to take a little of each different faith, meditation, prayer, energy work, spell work, ideas, rules, everything. I just needed to find a God/Goddess that made sense to me. I asked for signs, symbols, anything to show me evidence of a pressence. Isis made that connection to me. She reached out to me when I asked for a hand to hold. I feel for the first time in my life a connection to the divine. There is evidence! I had my magical journey. From my discussions with friends, and acquaintances, I have come to the same conclusion as the little boy. I belive. Like the conductor says to him, "Seeing is believing, but sometimes the most real things in the world are the things we can't see."

Thursday, December 17, 2009

I'll Show you Mine. If you Show me Yours...

Yule/Christmas tree that is. *Smirk*

This is the first tree I've had since I moved out of my parent's house. The Hubs and I hadn't decorated before since we were either in an apt. and didn't have the storage space or because the wee one was born in Dec. last year.

So this is our tree this year. We have snowflakes, white and red swirl, red sparkly, white sparkly, silver, gray, and all sorts of other fun ornaments. And the best part of all?!?!? They're all shatterproof! Yep, the munchkin and the pooch won't get hurt if one falls.

Of course, the best decoration on the tree, in my opinion, is the Frosty top hat!

All our decorations were picked up from Hobby Lobby. One of the best stores E-V-E-R!!!



Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Book Blogger Swap

I had signed up for this fun book blogger swap. Apparently, they had over 400 people sign up. And I got my secret Santa gift on Monday night. It was so much fun to come home to a box (thinking it was something I ordered for Christmas. But no! To my surprise and happiness it was for me from my secret Santa: Lynn. I didn't see her blog address anywhere or I'd link to her blog. (Lynn, if you read this, please drop me a line so I can check out your blog and thank you.)

Anywho, it was a perfect gift for me. A Market-Fresh Mixology cocktail recipe book. Which is divided up by season and even includes infusions. There's a Strawberry Rosemary liqueur I'd like to try. And a Bing Cherry one with Amaretto and Cognac. Mmmm! Plus a beautiful seashell ornament that I hung on my office door. And two dark chocolate bars! I love me some dark chocolate. I swear it was like she looked in my head, poked around and figured out exactly what to get!Thanks so much Lynn! I hope you get all the things you want for the holidays!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Happy Birthday Sweetie!!!!

It is the wee one's first birthday today! Can you believe it?!?!?! I can't. It seems like only yesterday I was at the hospital!

Here's some cute pics from her birthday party this last Sunday. As you can see she really enjoyed her cake!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Chili Fun

Yesterday we had a birthday party for the little one. It was her first and she got very into her giant cupcake. In fact, she ate the whole thing! And sometimes, when her hands were full of cake and frosting, she just went face first into the thing. So adorable! I'll post a pic of her tomorrow.

Anyway, we had to come up with food for the thirty-some-odd people in the house. Pizza? Nah. So what else? I came up with the brilliant idea of chili. We ended up with three types. White Chicken Chili, Sweet Red Chili and Spicy Red Chili. So in honor of the meaty, stewy, wonderful goodness that is Chili I bring you a very hilarious joke. I heard this a few weeks ago and I just have to share.

Texas Chili Contest
Frank: "Recently, I was honored to be selected as a judge at a chili cooking contest. The original person called in sick at the last moment and I happened to be standing there at the judge's table asking for directions to the Coors Light truck, when the call came in. I was assured by the other two judges (native Texans) that the chili wouldn't be all that spicy and, besides, they told me I could have free beer during the tasting, so I accepted." Here are the scorecards from the event:

(Frank = Judge #3)

Chili # 1 Eddie's Maniac Monster Chili...
Judge # 1 --! A little too heavy on the tomato. Amusing kick.

Judge # 2 -- Nice, smooth tomato flavor. Very mild.

Judge # 3 -- (Frank) What the hell is this stuff?! You could remove dried paint from your driveway. Took me two beers to put out the flames. I hope that's the worst one. These Texans are crazy!


Chili # 2 Austin's Afterburner Chili...
Judge # 1 -- Smoky, with a hint of pork. Slight jalapeno tang.

Judge # 2 -- Exciting BBQ flavor; needs more peppers to be taken seriously.

Judge # 3 -- Keep this out of the reach of children. I'm not sure what I'm supposed to taste besides pain. I had to wave off two people who wanted to give me the Heimlich maneuver. They had to rush in more beer when they saw the look on my face.


Chili # 3 Ronny's Famous Burn Down the Barn Chili...
Judge # 1 -- Excellent firehouse chili. Great kick. Needs more beans.

Judge # 2 -- A beanless chili, a bit salty, good use of peppers.

Judge # 3 -- Call the EPA. I've located a uranium spill. My nose feels like I have been snorting Drano. Everyone knows the routine by now. Get me more beer before I ignite. Barmaid pounded me on the back, now my backbone is in the front part of my chest. I'm getting pie-eyed from all of the beer...


Chili # 4 Dave's Black Magic...
Judge # 1 -- Black bean chili with almost no spice. Disappointing.

Judge # 2 -- Hint of lime in the black beans. Good side dish for fish, or other mild foods; not much of a chili.

Judge # 3 -- I felt something scraping across my tongue, but was unable to taste it. Is it possible to burn out taste buds? Sally, the barmaid, was standing behind me with fresh refills. That 300-lb. woman is starting to look HOT...just like this nuclear waste I'm eating! Is chili an aphrodisiac?


Chili # 5 Lisa's Legal Lip Remover...
Judge # 1 -- Meaty, strong chili. Cayenne peppers freshly ground, adding considerable kick. Very impressive.

Judge # 2 -- Chili using shredded beef, could use more tomato. Must admit the cayenne peppers make a strong statement.

Judge # 3 -- My ears are ringing, sweat is pouring off my forehead, and I can no longer focus my eyes. I farted and four people behind me needed paramedics. The contestant seemed offended when I told her that her chili had given me brain damage. Sally saved my tongue from bleeding by pouring beer directly on it from the pitcher. I wonder if I'm burning my lips off. It really pisses me off that the other judges asked me to stop screaming. Screw those rednecks.


Chili # 6 Pam's Very Vegetarian Variety...
Judge # 1 -- Thin, yet bold vegetarian variety chili. Good balance of spices and peppers.

Judge # 2 -- The best yet. Aggressive use of peppers, onions, and garlic. Superb.

Judge # 3 -- My intestines are now a straight pipe filled with gaseous, sulphuric flames. I pooped on myself when I farted and I'm worried it will eat through the chair! No one seems inclined to stand behind me anymore. I need to wipe my butt with a snow cone.


Chili # 7 Carla's Screaming Sensation Chili...
Judge # 1 -- A mediocre chili with too much reliance on canned peppers.

Judge # 2 -- Ho-hum; tastes as if the chef literally threw in a can of chili peppers at the last moment. **I should take note that I am worried about Judge # 3. He appears to be in a bit of distress, as he is cursing uncontrollably.

Judge # 3 -- You could put a grenade in my mouth, pull the pin, and I wouldn't feel a thing. I've lost sight in one eye, and the world sounds like it is made of rushing water. My shirt is covered with chili, which slid unnoticed out of my mouth. My pants are full of lava to match my shirt. At least during the autopsy, they'll know what killed me. I've decided to stop breathing; it's too painful. Screw it; I'm not getting any oxygen anyway. If I need air, I'll just suck it in through the 4-inch hole in my stomach.


Chili # 8 Karen's Toenail Curling Chili...
Judge # 1 -- The perfect ending, this is a nice blend chili. Not too bold, but spicy enough to declare its existence.

Judge # 2 -- This final entry is a good, balanced chili. Neither mild, nor hot. Sorry to see that most of it was lost when Judge # 3 farted, passed out, fell over, and pulled the chili pot down on top of himself. Not sure if he's going to make it. Poor fella, wonder how he'd have reacted to really hot chili?"

Judge # 3 -- Oh God.........

Friday, December 11, 2009

Holiday CD of the Week: A Christmas Album


Today's festive cd of the week is Barbara Streisand's "A Christmas Album".

My mom has always been a big Babs fan. As such, I grew up watching and singing along to Funny Girl. But the main reason I include this cd on my blog list is the song "The Best Gift".



After having the wee one so close to the holidays last year, this song has extra special meaning to me.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Hand Bound Journal

Home 'Crafted Holidays part Deux


Today, you’ll see how I made my most recent journal. I made a Moleskine type journal before and that took forever. Glue, stacking, sewing, leather….man, just like Bell, Book, Candle and Cats posted earlier this week. It was a pain in the butt. I found a DIY Hand Bound journal tutorial on Bibliophile's Bookbinding Journal and it was a cinch!

This type of journal didn’t take so long to put together. The majority of the time was spent prepping all the materials.


What you need:

Materials for Journal:

  • Leather (I used a thicker piece of leather from Hobby Lobby.) The thicker the leather, the less likely you are to have torn holes.
  • Paper (I used 50lb sketchbook paper. But you can use whatever weight or size you want.)
  • Waxed linen thread. (You can find this at Hobby Lobby right next to the leather.)
  • Leather strap (Again, found in the same vicinity at Hobby Lobby. I’d probably use a thinner leather next time. My strap was a bit stiff.)

Tools:

  • Cutting mat
  • Ruler
  • Xacto or some sort of craft knife
  • Folding bone or something to crease your paper with.
  • Awl or sharp needle (needs to be heavy duty to pierce leather.)
  • Sewing needle. (Upholstery ones would be nice since it’d be more heavy duty, but if you’ve already pierced through the paper and the leather, you can use a regular needle that’s big enough to thread the waxed thread through.
  • Tailor’s chalk or some sort of pen that shows up on the leather.
  • Scissors
  • Pencil

Preparation:


Paper prep:

  • Figure out how large you want your journal to be. I ended up with an 8x5 inch journal. So I cut down 9x12 inch paper and folded it in half. You need to fold in half for this journal because you’re sewing in the pages.
  • Once you have your paper size chosen, figure out how many pages you want your journal to have. Remember each piece of paper equals 4 pages in the book.
  • Then you’ll need to divide up your paper into “signatures” these are the sections of pages that you will sew into the journal. I used 6 pages per signature and had 6 signatures. (Note: You need to have an even number of signatures for sewing to come out right.
  • Fold pages and crease with the bone folder or straight edge. Set aside all signatures.
  • Mark holes for sewing with a pencil. You need 6 holes per signature if you’re doing 4 holes for the leather. (The two extra holes are to tie the signatures together.
  • I marked my holes at ½, 1, 3, 5, 8, and 8.5 inches.
  • Punch through paper with awl.


Leather prep:

  • No you know the size of your journal. You’ll need to keep an extra half inch of leather all around your journal. (I didn’t do this and you can tell when you look at the journal.) So, for an 8x5 journal you’d need leather 9 inches high. For the length of the leather you need to figure out how many signatures you have in the book and if you want the leather to wrap around the front of the journal. If you go the same route I did, you’ll need to keep a half inch around the sides and include another inch for the spine. So this leather cover would be 9 x 12 inches.
  • Take your ruler and mark off the center inch of the leather. You can mark the way I did, but you’ll have the mark on there after you’re finished. (I didn’t use tailor’s chalk, so I don’t know if that will brush off later.)
  • Mark a half inch and an inch and a half from the center edge of the front cover. This is where the strap will attach to the leather. If you follow the center line through the length of the journal. Mark a line on each edge of the center margin. This is again, where the strap will cut through the leather. These marks need to be at least the width of your strap. (Since your strap will go through at these marks.)
  • Cut through the leather with the xacto knife. BE CAREFUL! Leather can sometimes be difficult to cut through.
  • For the binding holes: I placed my holes at 1, 3, 5 and 8 inches along the spine. You’ll need one set of lengthwise holes per signature.
  • To measure widthwise for the holes, divide up the spine evenly among the signatures. You want to leave at least a little space for each to counter tearing. I marked mine about 3/8th of an inch apart.
  • Punch through holes with awl or sharp implement.
  • Leather strap. Mark a line lengthwise on the strap the same width as the strap about a half inch from the edge. This is where the leather strap will go through itself to secure to the journal.


Putting everything together.

  • Take your first signature and thread the waxed thread through the top hole from the outside of the signature to the inside. Leave about a 3-4 inch length of thread to tie off the signatures at the end of sewing. Then pull the thread through the 1 inch hole and thread through the leather as well. Go up through the leather and signature at the 3 inch hole. Down through the 5 inch hole. Up through the 8 inch hole. And only go through the paper on the 8.5 inch hole.
  • Take the second signature and you will start sewing this one through the bottom 8.5 inch hole. Down through the 8 inch hole. Up through the 5 inch hole, down through the 3 inch hole and up through the 1 inch hole. Again for the ½ inch hole only go through the paper.
  • Continue adding signatures.

  • On your last signature you will end at the top of the journal. (This is why you need an even number of signatures.)
  • Go through the journal. Tighten the thread throughout. The nice thing about waxed thread is that it is pretty sticky to the leather and paper. So you won’t have a hard time keeping the thread taught.
  • Once it’s all tightened, tie off the thread to itself.
  • Thread the strap through. This was a little tricky for me to figure out.
  • Lay the cut edge of the strap over the cover of the book. Keep the tail end of it to the right.
  • Loop the strap over the edge of the journal and through the first slit on the edge of the book. Pull the strap through itself.
  • Tuck the remaining edge of the strap (the part before the slit) under the second slit in the cover.
  • Take the tail of the strap and pull it through the first slit in the binding.
  • Thread the strap through the second hole.
  • Wrap strap around journal and loop under itself on front.


YAY! You’re finished. See, not too difficult. It just takes a while to prep the materials.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

A Chat with Mary of "An Inner Journey: The Moon, Mythology and You"

Here's my first interview of a fellow blogger. Mary from "An Inner Journey: The Moon, Mythology and You" is here for a quick chat.
I'm a 62 year young crone. I was born in the beautiful countryside, but have been living in the city for 30 odd years now. I've spent much of my life in search of a path that I could feel comfortable with. It wasn't until I began working on my family tree that I discovered my Celtic background. I I've got about 4,000 ancestors on my tree--from Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Britain, Germany, and Cornwall. I have studied to become a Bard through the New Order of Druids. I'm also an astrologer, have worked with numerology, enjoy mythology, psychology, sociology.
Your profile says that you have been searching for years for a path you feel comfortable with and found that you have a strong Celtic background. Is the Celtic path the path you finally feel comfortable with? If so, why?

Yes, it is the Celtic path. I've been into Rosicrucianism, Wicca, Golden Dawn, became an ordained Interfaith minister, gone to Mosques, Catholic Churches, Christian Churches of all kinds, but was never able to find a place where I felt I belonged until I stumbled on my Celtic line. I feel such an unexplainable closeness and felt as if I was being welcomed into a long line of family ancestral lines.


Wow! You have had a long spiritual path haven't you! I understand about feeling the familial ties. I have a strong Scottish background and though I changed my name when I got married, I still love the fact that I have a Tartan. It's actually been something that I could discuss with my father when we weren't all that close. (It's much better now.)

Your profile also says that you’ve studied to be a bard. What exactly is a bard?

In bygone days, there were Bards, Ovates, and Druids. The Bards were the keepers of the tradition. They had to memorize everything because nothing was put on paper. So, they were the ones who passed down all the genealogies and the mythologies. The Ovates were the ones who were responsible for knowing the mysteries of life and death and rebirth; they were the diviners and those who conversed with the ancestors who had passed on to the Otherworld. The Druids were the highest level. They usually worked very close with the king and had the main say about the laws and regulations. They were known to walk into the midst of a battle and stop it just like that. Today, there is not such a dividing line between the three. In the Bardic section I worked a lot with the mythologies of the Celts and communing with nature. In the Ovate course, we continue to work with nature, but are learning more about the psychology of the myth and archetypes.


So your studies to be a bard and Ovate and possibly a Druid are part of your Celtic path now?

Definitely.


You recently posted on your blog about your Croning Ceremony. What’s been the most interesting part of accepting your cronehood?

I'd say learning how to rely on my own wisdom, mentoring others who come to me for advise. I've also become more accepting of the life cycle.

You said in a comment on my page that “learning to like myself and becoming comfortable spending time by myself has helped me to become happier and more content.

There was time when I 'never' wanted to be alone, always had to have someone with me, but I now cherish my alone time.” How long did it take you to accept this? Oh, gosh, it seems like it took me forever.. I grew up in an alcoholic family and a sense of abandonment because I felt my parents weren't there for me. I grew up co-dependent, always latching onto the wrong relationships...went through 4 marriages and I became the caretaker of them all (2 alcoholics, a sex addict, and an abuser).. Then, when I met my current hubbie I latched onto him and wouldn't let go. I needed him home with me all the time, and when he did go out, the jealousies kicked in. I almost destroyed this relationship, but something inside me told me to get help and I went into counseling. That's was 18 years ago. And we've been together ever since. Today I look forward to having the house to myself.


Congratulations on facing your demons! It takes a lot of work to deal with issues that we have. (I've had some counseling myself.) And hey, by facing them, you've reaped such a long lasting relationship! I hope one day to say that I've been married 18 years...or more. ;)

What ignites your spirit?

Living, life, the world. The beauty in my surroundings because even here in the city, there is a beauty and a sense of mystery and awe...a sense of wonder if you dig deep enough. I agree. There is an amazing world out there. The part we see and the part that if you look a little closer, you can see all it's splendor.


Thanks to Mary for chatting with me. Please go check out her blog and get to know her if you don't already. She's got a ton of information and tips there.

As always, if anyone else would like to be interviewed, just let me know.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Lazy Sunday Movie: Elf



This is my husband's favorite holiday movie. And it ranks in my top 5.

This is the story of Buddy the Elf (Will Farrell) who's really human. When he finds out he's human he sets out to meet his father (James Caan). His father doesn't know he has another son. Buddy's mom never told him and died when Buddy was a baby.

It's funny to see how a 30 year old man reacts to NYC and the "real world" when he's only been exposed to Santa, elves, toys and snow.

Very funny!!!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Holiday CD of the Week: Let's Share Christmas

So I already mentioned The Polar Express yesterday. So I won't repeat myself. However, if you haven't seen the movie or heard the soundtrack, go check it out. You'll love it. A mix of old and new. Perfect.


Ok, on to new things. I have to say that one of my favorite all time holiday/Christmas albums is John Pizzarelli's "Let's Share Christmas". It was given to me by my step-father. He had gotten it from his boss and didn't want it. I've probably listened to it a thousand times over the last...man.....12 years. Now I feel old.

Well, this album made me fall in love with Mr. Pizzarelli's voice. Smooth, warm, jazzy, mellow, retro...

Simply put his voice reminds me of the holidays and never ceases to put me in the holiday spirit.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

5 Things I'm Into Right Now

Here's a list of five things I'm really into right now.

1. Christmas Movies. I'm dvr'ing all the Christmas movies I can! In fact, my latest favorite Christmas movie would have to be The Polar Express which records tonight. Woohoo!!!!



2. Nasal Rinse. It's gross, disgusting and yes, uncomfortable. But when you can't take a decongestant (breastfeeding) it's the only thing that works.



3. Domestic Witch's Home 'Crafted Holidays. Nothing like the holidays to inspire some creativity. Plus every year I try to make more and more of my gifts. My dream is that one year, I will finally make everything I give.



4. White Elephant Gift Exchanges. They're fun, festive and an easy way to get rid of the crap in your house, you've never used.



5. Holiday Parties. This is where you have the White Elephant. Or you play games, talk, chat, munch good food, and revel in friends and family.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Cranberry Orange Vodka

A big hearty hello to everyone from Domestic Witch's Home 'Crafted Holidays.

I got this recipe from the Food Network a few years ago. I've gotten rave reviews with this little beauty and it doesn't take much time at all.



Ingredients
1 pound fresh or frozen cranberries
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract, or 1 vanilla bean, split
2 oranges, peels cut into 2-inch strips
1 (750-ml) bottle vodka

To serve:
1 bottle tonic water
Lime slices, for garnish

Directions
Place cranberries, sugar and vanilla in a medium saucepan. Place pan over medium heat and stir. Simmer cranberry mixture until the berries burst, about 5 to 6 minutes.



Place orange peels in a large glass container with an airtight lid, or large mason jars with lids. Pour vodka over the orange peels.



Allow the cranberry mixture to cool. Pour the cooled mixture into the glass container(s). Cover tightly and set aside for 1 week. After 1 week, strain out the cranberries sand orange peels and pour mixture into a clean bottle, using a funnel. Store vodka in the refrigerator.



Everything turns out all ruby red, and very festive for the holidays.