Monday, January 21, 2013

a wee feast

This is a rather tardy post about a feast that I created for my Ancestors, in response to Ms Dirty's Holy Supper Challenge, which I also participated last year
While during Christmas dinner food and drink were set aside for our Ancestors, I decided to set aside some more time and make something nice just for them. To make a rather simple feast complicated, my camera has decided to "eat" many of the photos taken. I took some pictures of everything that was made, but have somehow disappeared from my camera {along with photos of some pretties I took for the Etsy shop :*(}. Anyhow, the photos in this post are the best of the slim pickings. 

Over the last month or so I have been going rather ape shit in the candle-making department, so it was only proper that I made some more Ancestor candles in time for their feast. These ones aren't for spellwork or anything fancy, just to be lit while I am giving offerings and the like. 

I have become quite fond of doing hand-dipped beeswax candles, although as I am sure you can see, it is not a skill that I have quite mastered yet. Hehe. 

A few days before preparing everything, I found this awesome shortbread dish in a local thrift store. It is handmade by someone named Mabel and it cost me a whole 75 cents. 

This little treasure put shortbread on the menu list. I used a recipe for coconut and almond shortbread, which turned out quite nice, although it was bitchy to get out of the dish. The designs held up pretty good once I got the pieces out. 

Also on the menu was mincemeat tarts, barmbrack, honey barley biscuits, red wine and vegetable shepherd's pie. 

Below is a recipe by my dear friend Rebecca Mullins, who published it in the Winter 2012/2013 issue of Alive+Fit. She has given me permission to share it here, and you can see previous articles of hers that I have shared on this blog {Teas for Hay Fever and Immune System Boosters}. Becca is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist here in North Bay and can be reached at rebeccamullinsrhn(at)live(dot)ca. 

Vegetable Shepherd's Pie

{Serves four}
  • 2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled, cut into chunks
  • 1/4 cup butter or Earth Balance
  • 1 large sweet onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 parsnips, peeled, thinly sliced
  • 2 cups broccoli, cut into flowerettes
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley leaves, chopped
  • Pinch ground nutmeg
  • 1 medium fennel bulb, cut into a 1/2 inch dice
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 3 cups baby spinach
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
Place sweet potatoes and salt in a large pot. Add enough cold water to cover. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, simmer until the potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a large saucepan over low-medium heat, melt half of the butter. Add the onion and saute for 10 minutes. Add the parsnips, celery, fennel, broccoli, parsley, and pepper and toss. Add the broth, increase heat, and simmer until the vegetables are tender, about 15 to 20 minutes. Add the spinach last and stir until wilted. Remove from heat. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the vegetables to a large casserole dish.

Drain the potatoes and return to pot. Add the remaining butter and mash until smooth. Spread the mashed potatoes over the vegetables.

Set broiler on high. Broil until lightly browned, 3 to 5 minutes. Sprinkle with nutmeg.




Thursday, January 17, 2013

wartime farm

Folks who have been following this blog for a while will probably know that I am quite a fan of the BBC shows Victorian Farm and Edwardian Farm, so I was happy to see the old gang back for Wartime Farm. After watching the first four episodes {of eight}, I am getting a new found appreciation of some of the perils that British farmers went through during WWII.

You can watch all eight episodes on Youtube and TVO will have all of the episodes on their website. Below is a preview:




Tuesday, January 15, 2013

2012 garden report

I know that I haven't been posting as frequently about the garden as I have in previous years {well, to be fair I haven't been posting as much here at all}, but I decided to keep the traditional "annual garden report" going. So this is a post is an overview of the 2012 growing season.

This was probably the most challenging growing season I have ever had, not only because we had a to start a new garden from scratch {that had really crappy soil}, but it seems that there was all sorts of diseases and infestations going around. A whole bunch of local gardeners that I spoke to had an over abundance of ear wigs, which is what hit us hard. They went to town on a shitload of our seedlings and young perennials, which my poor monkshood and mayapple never recovered from. :*( However, after a long battle and weeks of "trapping", almost all of the other victims flourished.

Below you will see how our annual edible/useful plants did {to actually get this post published, I am not going to bother getting into the perennials}. As with other years past, I am the 1 to 5 rating system, 1 being absolute shit, 5 being fan-fucking-tastic.

5. Our New Sun arugula from Soggy Creek Seed Co. just might be bomb proof!

Beans {Bush & Pole}
4. Our Purple Peacock and Scarlet Runner pole beans did very well, as did our Orca, Contender, and Blue Jay bush beans; our Tanya's Pink Podded bush beans were rather stunted thanks to the dastardly earwigs.

4. For the most part we grew our beets in containers and enjoyed them for their greens, and after thinning them getting nice big roots. The ones in the ground didn't do so well...{yes, thanks to the earwigs}.

3. These guys were also mostly reserved for containers to avoid certain somebodies nomming them to shit. For the most part our carrots were piddly little guys.

5. We had a steady diet of chard all season long.

2. Just like other seasons past, my luck with corn is just not there. It is too bad, because I was really excited about the two heritage varieties that I got at last year's seed exchange, Pickaniny and Painted Mountain.


3. Our Straight Eights had a set back thanks to you-know-who, so we didn't get to experience the prolific harvests that they are known for.

 5. We stuck to Red Russian and Dinosaur kale, which never let us down!

 4. We grew at least a dozen different types, and save for some bolting, all did very well.

1. These poor gaffers didn't stand a chance against the earwigs. They never made it past their first true leaves.

 4. Some minor issues with loppers, otherwise our mustard did awesome.

 5. Both the vining and bush varieties grew like weeds.

 5. Old reliables.

4. Had to start them a couple of times, but had a pretty good harvest.

5. We had a plethora of peas from Spring to Fall.

3. Another crop that had to be started over, thanks to the earwigs. Due to this we only got a small harvest.

 5. It probably would be fair to say that we had a bumper crop, especially with our Russets.

5. Our Small Sugars never let us down! For 2012 we grew them on trellises and that made a big difference with the powdery mildew, which we had some issues with previous years.

4. Besides some bolting, they did well.

5. Parfait!

 3. I was so heart broken by the damage done by the earwigs. Once I saw that my sunflowers were being mowed down, it was war. I had to re-start them a few times, so they weren't as plentiful as they should have been.

3. Pretty much the same story as the sunflowers.

5. We tried a few new varieties this year, but I think the Black Krim and Orange Blossoms did the best. 

4. We mainly grew our turnips in containers and got lots of greens. The roots were a wee bit smaller than other years.

Winter Squash
 5. We grew a few varieties, mainly on trellises. I am in LOVE with Potimarron!

5. We tried a new variety called Summer Ball, which can be eaten as a Winter or Summer squash. Love them! Our Strange Zucchini from Outer Space did well too.


Well, that pretty much is it. Now time to plan for 2013. ;)



an imbolc giveaway...

The Unfettered Wood Imbolc giveaway is now open {until Monday January 21st, 2013 at 3pm EST}.

 This is what is in the giveaway:
  • One $20.00 Cyber Gift Certificate
  • Brigid's Cross
  • 1/2 Ounce of Dried Juniper Tips
  • 1/2 Ounce of Three Sacred Fires Incense
  • Pair of Beeswax Home Blessing Candles
  • Square of Hand-Dyed Linen
  • Rowan Wood & Red Thread {to make a Rowan Cross}
To enter and find out more details, head on over to the Unfettered Wood Imbolc giveaway blog post.



Sunday, January 13, 2013

luverly of the week: brigit print by laura ramie

Brigit by Laura Ramie

With Imbolc not too far off, I thought that this pretty was a suitable pick! The talented artist, Laura Ramie has some other neat artwork over in her Etsy shop.

Transition Town North Bay Second Annual General Meeting

Just a wee post to announce that Transition Town North Bay will be holding its second Annual General Meeting on Thursday January 24th at 6:30 pm. Prior to the AGM there will be a potluck at 5:30pm, and both will be taking place at St. Andrew's United Church, 399 Cassells Street {at McIntyre Street} in North Bay. For more info go to the Transition Town North Bay website



Saturday, January 5, 2013

spiritual land stewardship

Restoule, Ontario
For those of us magical practitioners and Pagans that work closely with the land and nature allies, we are likely to also be passionate about conversation and environmental issues. We may be members of environmental groups, grow some of our own food, buy local and organic, and take other steps to tread lightly as possible; others may feel that they are obliged to protect certain ecologically sensitive and sacred areas through more spiritual means.

Over the last little while I have been happy to note that there are others in my region who act as spiritual land stewards or are interested in doing so. With that in mind, I thought that I would share some resources that I have found very helpful, as well as a few posts that I have done in the past that might give folks some ideas.

Some of these resources are specific to my region, while some are for any region. I also think that any of the resources of a spiritual nature could be adaptable to just about any faith or magical practice.


Animal Tracks of Ontario by Ian Sheldon
Art of Conversation With the Genius Loci by Barry Patterson {I don't agree with all of this book, but I think that it is still worth a read}
At Home in Nature: Modern Homesteading and Spiritual Practice in America by Rebecca Kneale Gould
Birds by Roger Tory Peterson 
Discovering Rock Art in Ontario's Provincial Parks by Thor Conway 
Mammals of Ontario by Tamara Eder
Mushrooms of Ontario and Eastern Canada by George Barron
Native Trees of Canada
Old Man's Garden by Annora Brown
Ontario Weeds: Descriptions, Illustrations and Keys to Their Identification
Ontario Wildflowers: 101 Wayside Flowers by Linda Kershaw
The Book of Swamp and Bog by John Eastman
The Forest Trees of Ontario by J.H. White
The Woodland Way: A Permaculture Approach to Woodland Management

If you know of any resources that are not on here, please feel free to share them in the comment section. :)



Wednesday, January 2, 2013

a new slate

The Old Year has gone. Let the dead past bury its own dead. The New Year has taken possession of the clock of time. All hail the duties and possibilities of the coming twelve months!
~Edward Payson Powell

I hope that all of our readers had a wonderful holiday season and that 2013 has been great so far! Yuletide over here was nice and low key, with plenty of food and spending time with loved ones. The year ended on a sad note though.

On New Year's Eve it was time to say "goodbye" to a beloved family pet who was very elderly and could no longer enjoy a reasonable quality of life. She was a sweet kitty who stuck around for about 18 or 19 years.

I would say that the holidays for the last few years have been met with some somberness in my family since my Grandparents passed away. This is why I like the new tradition of holding a feast for my Ancestors this time of year {inspired by Ms. Graveyard Dirt}.

For New Years I decided to add some Hogmanay traditions into the festivities, and I even saw some mummers oot and aboot! The rest of the night was spent reflecting on what I would like to see come to fruition in 2013.

I suppose it would be obvious that a part of this was daydreaming about this year's garden {on that...I do have a very tardy review of the 2012 garden to still share!}, which will likely be simpler than other years past. I will be taking a full time course over the entire gardening season, so it will have to largely fend for itself.

Well, I have garden porn {read: seed catalogues} to drool over, so I will leave it there for now. Many blessing to you all for the New Year! :)