Sunday, July 30, 2006

Weekly Tarot 07/30 to 08/04 - The Fool

The Fool
Universal Waite Tarot

The Fool is the first card of the Major Arcana. It's a significant card whenever it appears, as a sure sign that you are about to embark into unknown territories. The Major Arcana is about the powerful and universal themes that run through our lives. The Fool is the beginning of a new cycle.

The Fool stand on the edge of the precipice, apparently totally unaware and unconcerned that his very next step may send him plunging over the edge. His little faithful dog at his side, the Fool seems oblivious to the danger. But is it really danger that awaits the Fool?

Certainly the outcome is unknown at this snapshot moment. All of the options are still open. Take a step and fall. Glance down and carefully plant your foot in a safe place. Turn around. Stop, play with your dog and contemplate the choices. Or keep your focus on whatever you are watching above your head, and take that next step in trust. What are you focusing on anyway? The choice is yours. The one thing that is certain is that nothing is certain in this moment.

Keep your wits about you this week, aware that something new is absolutely presenting itself. It could be something as simple as a new job that you have been waiting to hear about or it could be as complex as a new dimension being added to a relationship you thought was pretty stable and predictable. Allow yourself to lighten up and playfully roll with the tide, stay open to what may happen. It won't last long.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Summer Fun at Scrap Artist

Well this weekend marks the first anniversary of the ScrapArtist web site. The creative team came up with some really fun challenges and games all bases on a pool party theme. It's apparently a huge hit, because they are experiencing all sorts of server issues.

They have my sympathies. In a former life I worked for a national retailer and we launched a new site design on Thanksgiving weekend. It was so hugely successful that no one had any time with their familes, we were all crazy trying to keep the site up and running! So, hang in there Scrap Artist gals, you've got a loyal and enormous following.

One of the challenges is called Belly Flop...remember this is a pool party... and the idea is to take a less than wonderful photo and make a fun scrapbook page with it anyway. My layout is here. It's intentionally rather child like, no shadows on the layers, etc and yeah, I know the photo is out of focus..that's what makes it a Belly Flop! I just love this photo, focus or not.

Another event in the pool party weekend is the After Splash BBQ. This one is for creating cool recipe cards to eventually go into a group collection. Mine is easy and too good for words.

So since I can't get them uploaded at ScrapArtist right now, I decided to share them here. Enjoy!

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Lemon Honey Barley Water

First, the confession.... I am addicted to Alton Brown's Good Eats on Food TV. There is something about the food/science combo and his quirky personality that keeps me coming back. The goofy visual aids are usually worth the price of admission,too!

Anyway, yesterday the show was on Barley. I've always liked barley and it's truthfully my favorite thing in a big pot of vegetable beef soup. I've never done anything else with it though. Now, Alton advocates buying an expensive German mill to get the barley ground down and that's a little over the top for me. If you've been reading along,you know I'd be buying a new camera if that kind of money flew in my window! So I did some reading today on barley. I am completely amazed at how beneficial this little bitty grain is!

It's loaded with protein,fiber and niacin, seems to be good for all sorts of digestive issues, kidney cleansing, reducing cholesterol, prevents gall stones, helps heart health for menopausal women and diabetics better than oats! Who knew! I also read that drinking barley water can help stimulate the body to burn fat faster and prevent wrinkles.

This recipe for Barley Water is based on the one given by Alton Brown on Good Eats. Doing a search on barley water will show you lots of variations, which I have adapted here. It's suggested that you drink 1 - 2 cups daily to receive health benefits. I'm going to give it a try. Let me know if you do too and lets compare notes.

2 quarts water
1 cup hulled barley
2 lemons
1/4 cup honey
1 cinnamon stick
Several slices of fresh ginger

Place the water and barley into a medium saucepan; cover, set over high heat and bring to a boil. Once the barley comes to a boil, decrease the heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes. While the liquid is cooking, peel the lemons, being careful not to cut into the white pith. Juice the lemons and place the juice along with the peel into a 3-quart pitcher and set aside. Add the cinnamon stick and ginger slices.

After 30 minutes, strain the barley water through a fine mesh strainer into the pitcher. Discard the barley. Add the honey and stir to combine. Refrigerate until chilled. Will keep up to 5 days.

I made this brew with a few changes, no ginger or cinnamon sticks around so I tossed in whole cloves. It's very good. I think I'll make mine just a little less sweet next time and add more spices, maybe some cardamom. It reminds me of cold chai.

And I didn't toss the barley. I mixed the partially cooked and drained barley with a little butter and about a cup of chicken broth. Then I added some italian seasoning and simmed another 20 min until the broth was absorbed. I tossed in some grated parmesan cheese and we had it as a side dish with grilled turkey. Pretty good! Considering the health benefits, I think I'll try to get more barley recipes in our meals.


Saturday, July 22, 2006

Ice Cream Heaven

Right now it's 96 F in my kitchen. The AC is on and the landlord says its working perfectly. Right. Even my cats have taken to sleeping in the sink to try and cool off. I think I'll make them some ice cream. Vanilla is their favorite. I have a Doniver ice cream maker that's been chilling in the freezer, waiting for the mercury to peak. I think it's time.

If you like a little creativity with your ice cream, just before you pack it away to harden, swirl in some all fruit preserves or some chocolate chips, cracked toffee or go nuts and add a teaspoon of instant espresso powder.

Try this and see if it doesn't rock your world.

3 cups half-and-half
1 cup heavy cream
9 large egg yolks
1 1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Place the half-and-half and the heavy cream into a medium saucepan, over medium heat. Bring the mixture just to a simmer, stirring occasionally, and remove from the heat.

In a medium mixing bowl whisk the egg yolks until they lighten in color. Gradually add the sugar and whisk to combine. Temper the cream mixture into the eggs and sugar by gradually adding small amounts, until about a third of the cream mixture has been added. Pour in the remainder and return the entire mixture to the saucepan and place over low heat. Continue to cook, stirring frequently, until the mixture thickens slightly and coats the back of a spoon and reaches 170 to 175 degrees F.

Pour the mixture into a container and allow to sit at room temperature for 30 minutes. Stir in the vanilla extract. Place the mixture into the refrigerator and once it is cool enough not to form condensation on the lid, cover and store for 4 to 8 hours or until the temperature reaches 40 degrees F or below.

Pour into an ice cream maker and process according to the manufacturer's directions. This should take approximately 25 to 35 minutes. Serve as is for soft serve or freeze for another 3 to 4 hours to allow the ice cream to harden.


Weekly Tarot 07/22-07-28 Ace of Wands

The Ace Of Wands
Sharman Casselli Deck

Been feeling a little uninspired lately? Good news! That funk is lifting and you'll be inundated with new ideas or a new outlook on an existing situtation. They've been incubating deep within you and are ready now to launch. This could take the form of a new business venture, a new creative project or something in the spiritual realm. If you're presented with an opportunity that interests you but seems a little out of your comfort zone, go for it! You'll be surprised at what you learn about yourself.

It's important that you pay attention to your intuition, learning to hear your spirit will help you to maintain your passion for your life. When you lose touch with your inner spirit, you lose focus, ambition and fire which leaves you feeling stuck, bored and frustrated with your job, your relationship and you life. Once you learn to listen, you'll be able to know when to take that leap of faith and when to let it pass.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Sticky Buns for Breakfast

My family members know that I am an excellent baker with one huge exception. I can sometimes get the bread machine to cooperate, but usually, if something calls for yeast, you'd be better of buying it at Wal-Mart. Really. This recipe is the one exception. I have made hundreds of batches of these sticky buns. In the early 1980's, I had a toddler at home and supplemented our family income with these gooey treats. I woke up thinking about them this morning and finally found my recipe! Guess what I'm having for breakfast tomorrow!

Diamond Walnut Sticky Buns

1 pkg active dry yeast
2 tablespoons warm water
1/4 cup boiling hot milk
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons shortening
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
2 cups sifted all-purpose flout
1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Sprinkle yeast over warm water, let stand 5 min to soften. Meanwhile, stir hot milk, 1/4 cup sugar , shortening and salt together. When lukewarm, add egg, 1 1/2 cups flour, lemon peel, ginger and yeast. Beat on a mixer at medium speed 2 minutes. Stir in remaining 1/2 cup flour to make moderately soft dough. Knead a few seconds to smooth out and round up dough. Cover and let rise in warm place until doubled,1 to 1-1/2 hours. Prepare Walnut Pan coat.

When dough has risen, turn out onto floured board, roll out to an 8 x 12 inch rectangle. Spread with butter, sprinkle with 1/2 cup walnuts and the remaining 1/4 cup sugar mixed with cinnamon. Roll tightly, starting from long side of dough. Cut in 1 inch slices. Arrange cut side down in prepared pan, placing 3 rolls in center, 9 around edges. Let rise until doubled, approx 40-50 min. Bake at 375 F about 25 min until browned and baked through. Loosen edges. Invert over plate. Let pan rest on rolls 1 min so syrup drains. Serve warm. Makes 12 rolls.

Walnut Pan Coat
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoon dark corn syrup
1 tablespoon water

Melt butter in a small saucepan. Add brown sugar, syrup and water. Stir over moderate heat until mixture reaches simmering and sugar dissolves. Turn into a 9 inch layer cake pan. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup large walnut pieces.

This recipe was published in 1980 in women's magazines as a Diamond Walnut advertisement.


Tuesday, July 18, 2006

AW BLog Chain 3 - Confessions of a Geek Girl

This post is another link in the Absolute Write Blogger Chain,round 3. Here's the entry before mine, if you'd like to catch up.

Today we seem to be talking about our geeky-ness. At one time, I was a totally spoiled geek girl and if something was new, cool or beta, I had it. My husband was more than happy to indulge me as it was a real toss up as to who was the bigger geek. I always got the new shiny toy and he took the hand me downs. Being a geek early adopter has its drawbacks; new toys are always expensive and sometimes the initial offering of software isn't as awesome as rev 2 or 3. Another drawback is that once you buy something, it is impossible to, gasp, throw it out so you will end up with boxes and boxes of cables, cards and god knows what. I am also of an artistic mind and my biggest indulgences were graphics programs, scanners and cameras.

Case in point, digital cameras were new and incredibly sexy in 1997. My first camera shot an unbelievable 1 megapixel and was*only* $800. It was an Olympus and I was thrilled. It was silver, cool and pretty heavy. I took pictures of everything and thought I had bought my last camera. Ok, so the printed picture wasn't much, but we could see them on the computer and that was good. Before too long, it started seeming like an antiquated dinosaur as newer models came out that were smaller, lighter and has more features. Time to go shopping.

Camera 2, was a Sony Mavica. Ok, so I didn't get the light small version of my dreams, but it had FLOPPIES! I know, you're shaking your head on that one, but at the time it seemed like the perfect answer to taking lots and lots of pictures. Memory sticks were very new and very,very expensive. Floppies were cheap and no one knew that they have a nasty habit of self destructing in such a short time. Besides, we had a 4x CD burner and I could burn my pictures off on a CD. The theory worked well, we took it on a month long vacation, took thousands of pictures that archived nicely. At 2 megapixels it took a much better picture, had a great zoom,printed pictures were nice and now I was really convinved I'd bought my last camera.

Except, about 2 months after we bought the Mavica, the first 3 megapixel cameras were on the scene. They were beautiful, small, sleek and had totally jaw dropping features and quality for...get this... under $200. I shoved thoughts of the temptresses to the back of the closet and resisted for a full 3 years. One day, it became too much for me. I'd lost my job, I had a little severence cash and a new Cybershot Sony soothed my wounded pride.

My days of spoiled geek girl seem to be temporarily on hold. The job loss thing has really gotten in the way of being an early adopter. Like a smoker going cold turkey, I've stopped watching TechTV, going straight for the CompUSA ad in the Sunday paper and never, ever open the Dell mailers that they keep sending me. Lovely shrinkwrapped boxes of upgraded Photoshop call to me from time to time and I still lust after the newest goodies, escpecially a Canon Rebel XT, but hey, I really can do everything I want with the camera I have. Can't I?

If you're enjoying the randomness of this AW Blog Chain, keep reading...and comment, please. We all love an audience. Next up is Southern Expressions.

AW Blog Chain Round 3

Friday, July 14, 2006

Altered Playing Card for Arthur

Here it is a week later and I still have Sir Arthur on my mind with those fairies! This card was done in response to an altered playing card challange at Scrap Artist. My original idea was to recreate an "Authors" game card, like the card game I played so often as a child, but I couldn't find a good image to use. So I went with a regular playing card and tinkered with the fairies again.

His book about the Cottingley Fairies is entitled The Coming of Fairies and is readable online if you're looking for some summer amusement.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Witch of Pungo Exonerated

Grace Sherwood, The Witch Of Pungo

I read about the Witch of Pungo for the first time when I was in the 5th grade. Eventually, my life took me to Virginia Beach, where I lived not far from the area known as Pungo. When I became a HypnoBirthing practitioner, something in my brain ressurected her story for me as a midwife/healer who faced the witch hunt mentality and lost.

Grace is in the news again; this week she was officially exonerated by the state of Virginia and a statute will be commerate her memory. 300 years to get the record straight.

The Witchcraft case of Grace Sherwood is one of the best known in Virginia. She was accused of bewitching a neighbor's crop in 1698. Allegations grew over time until the Princess Anne County Government and her accusers decided she would be tested by ducking, since water was considered pure and would not permit a witch to sink into its depths.

Sherwood's accusers on July 10th, 1706, at ten of the clock, tied her thumbs to big toes, cross-bound, and dropped her into the Western Branch of the Lynnhaven River near what is now known as Witchduck Point. Sherwood floated, a sign of guilt. She was imprisoned, but was eventually released.

Sherwood lived the rest of her life quietly and died in 1740. Was she really a witch or was Grace a woman before her time? She was a healer, a midwife and a friend to the children and animals. On the 300th Anniversary of her conviction, Grace Sherwood's name will finally be cleared and her statue will be unveiled.

On July 10, 2006, Grace Sherwood, Virginia's only convicted witch, will be exonerated by the Vestry of Old Donation Church on the original site of the Second Princess Anne Courthouse, where her trial took place in 1706. The Vestry of the Lynnhaven Parish, present day Old Donation Church, condemned her so many years ago, and will now reverse their three centuries old decision and clear her name.

Thanks to Carol's House for the drawing.


Friday, July 07, 2006

Arthur Conan Doyle & Fairies

This is a picture of the infamous Cottingley Fairies, supposedly the first actualy photographic evidence of fairies. In 1920, Arthur Conan Doyle received word of these photographs and became convinced that they were genuine. Even after they were exposed as a delightful fraud by two creative teenagers, he continued to believe in their authenticity. Gotta wonder how any thinking person could have been taken in by this, but thousands were. It was an enormous hot topic in it's day. Today, the media frenzy would probably have been comprable to anything involving Paris Hilton.

Arthur Conan Doyle became a dedicated Spiritualist in 1916 and remained so until his death in 1930. He was an enthusiastic researcher and wrote 13 books on Spiritualism related material in the last years of his life. At one point, he began publishing his own works under the Psychic Press publishing house name. His beliefs could not be shaken and he was going to be published one way or the other! Of course, it didn't hurt that he was the world's most successful author at the time and had time, money and celebrity on his side. He approached Spiritualism as an investigator, working endlessly to advance the cause. In his first book on Spiritualism, he says

I seemed suddenly to see that this subject with which I had so long dallied was not merely a study of a force outside the rules of science, but that it really was a tremendous, a breaking down of the walls between the two worlds, a direct undeniable message from beyond, a call of hope and guidance to the human race...

Doyle has contributed enormous amounts of literature to the Spiritualism religion. I'm fortunate enough to own a first edition set of his 2 volume History of Spiritualism. His writing, although a little antiquated by today's standards, is still interesting and compelling. If you're interested in checking this out for yourself, it has been put online at the site. His abiding belief in the fairies aside, Doyle gives us a great deal to think about.

He was frequently challenged by famous psychic investigators and debunkers, Harry Houdini and Harry Price, but he never gave up on some of his convictions, especially regarding spirit photography. I have lots more to say on the spirit photography topic and other physical manifestations, but that's for another day. Today, July 7, 2006 is the 76th anniversery of Arthur Conan Doyle's death, and I'll show a little respect. Everyone gets to have an eccentric side as far as I'm concerned.