Honor tradition, but
Do not be constrained by tradition. ~Jonathan Lockwood Huie
Blessed Be my Little Witch. To those who came before and those who will come after, know that the Goddess is with you always. Thank you all my dear readers…be blessed. ~GrannyMoon
Dark Moon – Time to Rest
New Moon – Time to Begin New Projects; Birth; Attraction
Waxing Moon – Time to Grow; Increase
Full Moon – Time to be Fulfilled; Abundance
Waning Moon – Time to Banish; Decrease
Last Sliver of Moon – Time to Die; Letting Go
Dark Moon – Time to Rest Again
Light A Candle Today!
In many different traditions lighting a candle is a sacred action. It expresses more than words can express. It has to do with gratefulness. From time immemorial, people have lit candles in sacred places. You may want to begin or end your day by the sacred ritual of lighting a candle on this gratefulness. Or you may want to light a birthday candle for a friend. One single guideline is all you need: Slow down and do it with full attention.
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Current Moon Phase: WANING MOON
Time: From full moon to dark moon (approx.14 days)
Goddess Aspect: Crone
Associated Goddesses: Callieach, Banshee, Hecate, Kali, Morrigan
Magickal Attributes: BANISHING Releasing the old, removing un
Workings on this day are for banishing magick, for ridding oneself of addictions, illness, or negativity, physical and psychic cleansings.
What’s Happening This Month
Celtic Month of Elder – November 24th to December 23rd
Goddess Month of Astraea – November 28- December 25
Herb of the Year for 2021: Parsley (Petroselinum crispum)
Flower of the Month for December: Poinsettia
Week 3. Christmas and Kwanza Week
December 26: Kwanza
Week 4. A New Year Begins
December 31: New Year’s Eve
Sunday Classes with GrannyMoon at Sticks and Stones, Fairfax, VA
Face to Face Class: 1 PM – 3 PM ~ WitchCrafting – Jan 2
Face to Face Class: 1 PM – 3 PM ~ The Herb Cauldron – Jan 9
Face to Face Class: Noon – 2:00 PM ~ The Magick of Crystals – Jan 16
High Priestess Training with GrannyMoon
The entire course takes 15 months to complete (four levels). Tuition covers lessons, assignments and instructor feedback. In addition, students may download guided meditation exercises and be eligible for Sabbats, Esbats, and retreats with the Sisterhood. The entire fee for each level is $120 (payment plan available), sixteen lessons in each level, except the last.
Ceremonial Cords and frame-able Completion Certificates are awarded as members complete each level.
Level I – Initiate of the Sisters of the Burning Branch – White cord
Level II – Adept of the Sisters of the Burning Branch- Red cord
Level III – Priestess of the Sisters of the Burning Branch- Black cord
Level IV – High Priestess of the Sisters of the Burning Branch – Green cord
Learn About Herbs with GrannyMoon!
There is so much to learn about herbs! In Herbalism 101, we cover 21 herbs, and you will start your own personal Materia Medica, that we will build throughout the next levels. We will cover the basic aspects of herbs. From culinary to magickal, medicinal to ornamental. As well as the many modalities of herbs!
During this course, in addition to the online lessons and hands-on projects that you do at home, I will be sending you articles, and information, as well as questions about your own personal use and research.
I look forward to walking this green journey with you! I love herbs and I hope that you do too or will learn too!
There are 10 lessons in each level and there is no time limit for completion. You may study at your own pace! There are no texts to purchase.
For more info or to join my class, click here!
The cost for Level 1 is $50.00 or $150.00 for the entire Healing Arts Course (1-3) which includes a free Reiki certification course when all three are ordered!
Earth Signs and Omens in Nature Course
Learn to read the mysteries of nature! The course covers signs and omens, communication, seasonal rites, trees and shrubs, flowers, plants and weeds, herbs, plant magick, the Guardians of Nature and much more.
The Goddess School Grimoire
eBook (PDF): $6.25
The Goddess School Grimoire is a collection of recipes, artwork, poetry, prose, prayers, rituals, spells, and practical Goddess wisdom put together by the teachers, students, alumni, and friends of The Sisters of the Burning Branch Goddess School. The sisterhood is dedicated to restoring spiritual balance by returning the Divine Feminine to her rightful place and by assisting women in their personal and spiritual development. Since being founded by Head and High Mother Priestess Grandmother Moon in 2000, The Goddess School (GoddessSchool.com) has grown into a large and beautiful global community of women.
Seasons of the Witch
Thy love is present in the presences of thee.
A comforting veil that warms the heart and hugs the soul.
December 27, 2021 – January 2, 2021
The last week of December possibly brings us our holiday miracle with Jupiter moving into Pisces (see above) on Tuesday, and he moves out of the reach of Saturn’s influence. Jupiter moving into his sign could be the beginning of the end of the struggles of the last two years. So, it’s time to press in and press on!
At the beginning of the week, the Moon moves through fair and balanced Libra. You could find that you are dealing with the relationship problems of the last week because the Moon reactivates Venus conjunct Pluto. Try to reach compromises with others, if possible.
Midweek, Mars makes a beneficial aspect to Saturn. It’s an excellent day for planning and strategizing for the New Year. The more you allow situations to simmer and work patiently towards your goals, your results will ultimately be better. However, be careful on Tuesday when Mercury conjoins Pluto because power struggles with others are possible. Keep your secrets to yourself.
New Years’ weekend brings some exciting energy as the Sun trines Uranus. Traditionally, New Year’s resolutions are set on the first, but you may want to set your intentions on Sunday this year since we have a lovely new Moon in Capricorn.
Recommended Candles: Jupiter (Astro Magic), Truth and Justice (Blessed Herbal), Everything and then Some (Wicked Witch Mojo), New Moon (Astro Magic)
Here’s what you missed on CoventryCreations.com this week…
That insightful, witchy, or spiritually mindful person in your life deserves more than just a crummy gift card. Give them a magical gift from Coventry Creations.
Love Magic Hacks
Romance is the tip of the iceberg with love magic. Love as a brand of magic encompasses all relationships; romantic, family, business, friendship, community, and even your mortal enemy. Any interaction you have with another person can be influenced by love magic, yet is that the best course of action or the path that avoids emotional vulnerability.
Llewellyn’s Spell A Day
Gifts to Ourselves
DECEMBER 26, 2021 BY DALLAS JENNIFER COBB
In the Victorian era, Boxing Day was traditionally the only day servants had off from work, and they often received a boxed gift from their master or mistress.
A statutory holiday here in Canada, Boxing Day is a time for me to focus on giving to myself and being my own “mistress.” I give myself a small magical gift wrapped up in a box.
Today, cast a circle, call in the directions, and invoke Mother Mary, a symbol of the divine feminine. May she connect you to your own divinity. While in sacred space, imagine being held in Mother Mary’s arms, by the divine feminine, protected and empowered. Open the box and joyously receive the magical gift, affirming:
I am my own mistress, thankful for
my own divine care. I receive this gift
and empower the magic of my divine
feminine. I give and receive magic.
Close the circle. Create a magical life.
DECEMBER 25, 2021 BY EMYME
Depending on your lifestyle, Saturday may just be the perfect day of the week to celebrate Christmas. This is the time of year for parties and get-togethers with family, friends, coworkers, and spiritual groups.
With all these celebrations, be aware of potential holiday burnout. Today, take some time (five minutes will do) to find a quiet place and concentrate on peace and well-being for all people in the world. Send out positive energy for safe travel. Create a blessing for all those workers who sacrifice their time to make life better for others at the holidays. Take a deep, calming inhale and exhale, give thanks to the Lady and Lord, and begin your day feeling refreshed. Here is a suggested mantra:
Joy is mine—I share it.
Love is mine—I share it.
May this day find all safe,
healthy, and whole.
All is well. Life is good.
A Merry Witchy Christmas Spell
DECEMBER 24, 2021 BY STORM FAERYWOLF
Christmas is more than just a religious celebration. It’s also a secular celebration of family and abundance in wintertime, and of Santa Claus, an old man who flies through the sky with eight magical reindeer and some elves. It’s Pagan through and through.
For this spell you will need the following items:
- A small gift
- Wrapping paper and ribbon
- 2 candy canes
Wrap your gift while playing or singing a Christmas song. Eat one candy cane and affix the other to the wrapped package. As you tie the bow, say:
Tonight he rides the winter sky,
To bring the gifts of light and hope.
Choose a person at random and give them the gift anonymously. Santa Claus is alive and well. Merry Christmas!
DECEMBER 23, 2021 BY EMBER GRANT
This day was dedicated to a Roman goddess (possibly named Larentia or Lara) who was said to be the guardian of ghosts—specifically the Lares, or good spirits. Offerings were made to her on this day for the departed spirits. These spirits were believed to be the protectors of homes and families. The offerings were typically left in chimney corners, where the Lares were said to dwell.
On this day, leave your own offering for the protection of your home and family. Place the offering near a chimney or hearth, if you have one. If not, any corner of the home will do. Offer a small piece of bread or some dried beans or lentils. Leave the items in place for at least twenty-four hours, then put them outside. Each time you put the offering in place, say these words:
Keep us all from harm,
Protect and guard this home.
Grant us safety while we’re here
And also when we roam.
Attune with Earth
DECEMBER 22, 2021 BY THORN MOONEY
Now that the solstice has passed and winter has officially arrived, the daylight hours will very gradually increase, with the promise of spring to someday arrive (however far away). But first we must pass through winter! In many Western magical traditions, winter is tied to the north and the element of earth, which rules over groundedness, stability, the physical body, and silence. To get the most out of the coming months, attune to the element of earth.
If you can, sit on the earth outside, perhaps under a tree. If you must remain indoors, you may do this with a pot of earth or a bowl of salt. Place your hands in the soil or salt and contemplate the stillness of the season. Root your own energy here, feeling the connection in your bones. Say:
Powers of the earth, lend me your
gifts of strength, stability, and the
power to remain silent. Be with
me this day. So mote it be.
Yuletide Peace Brew
DECEMBER 21, 2021 BY MICHAEL FURIE
Yule is traditionally associated with family gatherings, gift giving, and holiday parties, and this quick bit of magical cookery can help ensure that the home environment will remain happy and peaceful for all to enjoy. This brew can be simmered on the stove to release a peaceful and loving energy as well as a comforting warmth.
Gather these ingredients:
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup apple juice
- 3 cinnamon sticks, broken
- 1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon almond extract
- 1 orange, sliced
Combine all the ingredients in a cauldron or pot and simmer on low for as long as desired, adding more water if necessary.
DECEMBER 20, 2021 BY NAJAH LIGHTFOOT
Many of our rituals have origins in ancient traditions, yet when we perform these rites, we connect to something deep within ourselves that defies explanation. Today, concentrate on an old story or myth that calls to you.
For this spell, you will need a black candle, frankincense essential oil, gold glitter, a fireproof candleholder, a pen, and paper.
Anoint your candle with frankincense oil, then roll it in gold glitter. Place it in the holder.
Light the candle. As you gaze into the flame, say:
Ancient mysteries of old,
By this divine light you unfold.
By dark of night, by light of day,
I thank you for all you
share with me today.
Write down any impressions you receive, then extinguish the candle or let it burn down safely. Keep the paper and candle on your altar as a reminder of your connection to the divine mysteries.
Heartwings Love Notes 1014 The Time Between
Heartwings says, “Enjoying the time between is special and sweet.”
In a simpler society before the industrial age, the solstice was considered the end of the old and the beginning of a new solar year. The next 12 days marked the length of time up to the beginning of the calendar year. So, the twelve days of Christmas could be used for relaxation and not doing more than was necessary. As hard as life was then, this would have been appropriate. The song, the Twelve Days of Christmas seems a celebration of this time.
My late Uncle Ollie gave me a songbook of the Twelve Days of Christmas. With illustrations that harked back to medieval times, it came from a museum in New York, and was historically correct. Some of the verses were slightly different from the usual, perhaps due to the language as it was spoken then. For instance, the “calling birds” I was familiar with were said to be coley birds. The book explained this word as referring to “coal black” birds of that time.
Later on, my daughter, who always had a good singing voice was chosen to sing the line, “Five gold rings,” one year when her school put on a concert at Christmas. I think she was ten or eleven at the time. I can still hear her clear voice ringing out from the stage. Later on, in the days when I played my guitar and sang for gatherings, or when I performed at Hootnannies as open mikes were called in the 60’s and 70’s, I would often sing the verses of the song.
The holidays do bring back memories. Recently I was thinking about the twelve days of Christmas. Counting the solstice on the 21st as day one, January first becomes the 12th day. Once, when life was very different, these days were intended to solace people in the darkness of the long nights, promoting opportunities for celebration and joyful times together. They could be considered a kind of year end vacation, when no hard work is done and people could gather together to be sociable.
Of course, nowadays the wheels of industry as well as the march of commerce keep most hustling for whatever they think is important or for whatever is required of them by life. Clearly, we live in far more complicated times than the way it was in medieval or even earlier days when the song was born. Yet could we somehow use this time for its original intention? Could we just for a few days keep from rushing out to get an after Christmas sale bargain or a new car on special? Might we take the time to enjoy our gifts, listen to some old programs or sing some old songs together? The days are just as dark and the need for rest just as great now as it was then if not more so.
May your holiday time be refreshing and loving, and your New Year bountiful.
Blessings and best regards, Tasha Halpert
Gift of Winter
There is a quiet humility about the earth in the winter months, as animals and people retreat inside to do their deep work.
In fall, the earth begins the process of releasing all the things she has been holding onto throughout spring and summer, and by midwinter, she has let everything go. She sits clean and undecorated in her simplicity, free of the frenzy of life that defines her in the warmer seasons. There is a quiet humility about the earth in the winter months, as animals and people retreat inside to escape the wet and sometimes freezing cold that takes hold. Inside our homes, we create abundance and warmth in response to being effectively kicked indoors by the dark and cold that permeates the outdoors.
We burn fires in fireplaces and make heavy, hot foods to keep our bodies warm and insulated. We may find ourselves sleeping longer hours and yearning for downtime, just like the animals deep inside their caves and warrens taking a winter-long nap. Even if we live in a warmer climate, the longer nights and shorter days have the same effect on our cycles. If we surrender to this time as nature intended, we allow ourselves to slow down, sleep more, and lower the volumes on our busy minds. At the same time, we crave company in our dwellings, and the insulated warmth of the hearth tends to bring people together, creating more warmth and fostering connections that last through the coming year.
We laugh, eat, and talk, sleep, or catch up on reading, while outside our windows the earth grows dark earlier and stays cold longer, accepting as always of the process of change and her place within it. We might remember to learn from her as she so gracefully surrenders to the emptiness that precedes all form, the peace that precedes activity, the darkness that precedes the light. For everything she gives and teaches, we might offer a blessing, extending a goodly portion of the gratitude of this season her way, holding her in our hearts and thanking her for our very lives.
5 Ways To Minimize Cold Feet
You don’t have to be getting married to experience cold feet. Often this condition is simply due to cold weather combined with exposed feet and toes, but some people can experience cold feet even when the weather is very warm – leading to suffering year-round.
If you tend to get cold feet, discuss your symptoms with your doctor to rule out any underlying medical conditions. Circulatory disorders such as Raynaud’s disease, anemia, and diabetes may be to blame and should be addressed if they are determined to be the cause. If no medical condition is suspected, try the following – each can help to prevent or lessen your symptoms:
Sprinkle a small amount of ground cayenne pepper in your socks and shoes. To learn more about the benefits of cayenne, watch the video “Spices with Dr. Weil – Cayenne.”
Make time to get regular physical exercise to help improve your circulation. Be sure to dedicate some exercise time to strength training to allow muscles to squeeze the blood vessels and promote better flow. Leg presses and calf raises are ideal movements.
Quit smoking: Nicotine constricts blood vessels, disturbing normal circulation.
Wear socks and shoes that are comfortable and not too tight in order to avoid restricted circulation. There are now a number of options of battery-operated warming socks that should be considered. Be very cautious in maintaining them in an effort to avoid burning the skin.
Don’t forget the most obvious solution: a relaxing foot soak in warm (not hot) water followed by a pair of warm socks! Or have warming packs that you can get at most outdoor or ski stores to use in your shoes.
The Druid’s Garden
An Approach to Spiritual Retreat and Rejuvenation: Going Dark Week
Perhaps now more than ever, the idea of taking regular retreats is a critical one. Last week, in my post on the Winter Solstice, I shared the deep need for restorative activities that allow us to heal, process, and deepen our practice–particularly in today’s age and as we move further into the age of the Anthropocene. Finding restoration activities are particularly critical because so many of us are languishing, dealing with the real effects of deepening climate change, dealing with the long-term upheaval and separation due to the pandemic, among a host of other issues. Thus, this week, I want to share one practice that I’ve developed over the years that is particularly helpful–I call it “going dark” or “inner life retreat.”
What is a Going Dark Spiritual Retreat?
The principle of going dark is very simple–rather than being always on, always available, and always connected–you step off the grid for a bit. You set aside time for a retreat, where you withdraw, physically and virtually from all of your external obligations and instead focus instead on your own spiritual life, your own thoughts, your own healing, and your own creations. The reason I call it “going dark” is because you literally power down your devices. The screen goes dark and stays dark. The quiet is present. You are off, free from all of it, to focus on your inner spiritual life and connection with the living earth.
Going dark basically is a way to create a very intentional space for yourself, allowing you to withdraw from the world, and eliminate any external inputs from the dominant culture, and be with your own thoughts and mind. You replace these typical inputs with as much time as possible in nature and with your own thoughts.
The other reason I call it “going dark” is that I usually take this a step further–and do some candlelight evenings. By reducing my dependency on electronics in general, and living by candlelight or firelight for a few days, I find that it is extraordinarily rejuvenating.
Why Go Dark?
Our modern technology creates a series of situations that severely hamper our inner life and create constant demands on our time and attention. First, where we are always expected to be on, 24/7, where many of us are tied to a technological device that is literally always within a few feet of us. It creates a societal or workplace obligation where we are always available. Many have noted that this has grown immensely worse during the pandemic, where boundaries between work and life have blurred beyond recognition. This creates a situation where our obligations–facilitated by increasing technology–become constant and where we are able to comfortably step away.
The second issue is apparent anywhere you go in public: the culture of screens, voices, and talking heads. This is abundantly clear in doctor’s offices, airports, restaurants, etc., where there is a constant chatter of screens. Screens are everywhere people congregate, wait, or travel. This creates a situation where other people’s thoughts, ideas, and perspectives constantly fill our eyes and our minds. For example, I recently went to the dentist’s office and not only did they have a loud TV in the lounge, I was also expected to watch TV while in the dentist chair (I asked them politely to turn it off). We become so used to this constant input that we don’t realize how much it fills our minds, preventing us from developing a quality inner life. If we spend all of our time with other people’s thoughts in our heads, we have no space for our own. Without access to those thoughts and space, we lose our rich connection to the subconscious, our dreams, and our creative selves.
The problem is, the stuff above is hard to avoid if you live any kind of typical life or work a typical job. I work to limit it in my daily life, but I still find that it creeps in more than I’d like–a lot of it has to do with the obligations that I have to work and my other long-term commitments. So creating a regular “detox” and “downtime” from it can really help. Hence: going dark.
Going Dark: Suggestions and Ideas
When you go dark, you power down the devices and intentionally create quiet space for your own thoughts, creativity, and subconscious to flow. You realize that technology is not an extension of you, but a tool that can be replaced with other things. You get into the spirit of nature.
If you want to try this practice, I suggest setting some goals and supports upfront for your spiritual retreat. They are:
Decide how long you would like to go dark and what guidelines you will put in place. Once you have a sense of it, stick to your plan if at all possible.
Let others know as appropriate. I’ve been doing this for about a decade, but the first time I did it, I didn’t let anyone know. Suddenly, by about day 4, I had multiple people showing up at my house checking on me cause they thought something happened to me. So…let your family and friends or other people to whom you are obligated to know that you are doing a retreat. Put an away message on your email, social media, or whatever else so people leave you in peace.
Consider setting intentions for your going dark. Spend some time considering how you will spend your time–now that you’ll have more of it.
Do you want to stay home or go somewhere different?
Do you want to cook or have prepared foods so that you can focus on other things?
What kinds of things might you do in the absence of screens? Meditation, journey work, reading printed books, creative/bardic practices, hiking, being in nature, etc, are just some possibilities.
Do you have some goals for the retreat (healing, rest, working on a creative project)? Even if you have some goals, it’s also really useful to create a lot of open and unstructured time to be led by the voices of spirit, the creative flow of nature, and your own whimsy.
Time of year matters. I like to go dark twice a year. I always go dark in late December and early January because I’m off from work then. This is usually when I do my best spiritual work and deep dives of the year, allowing creative and spiritual practices to flow. I also usually go dark in the summer for a week or so, but usually, this involves some outdoor solo trip.
If you want to try going dark, even for a day or two, I do have one other thing to point out. At first, some people can literally experience technology withdrawal with this practice. That’s because things like social media are addicting and can literally harm us and change our brain chemistry. If we suddenly remove ourselves from the devices we’ve grown so used to, it can be a shock. Stick with it for a day or two, or even a week, and see how you feel at the end of it. Too much screen time can lead to a host of chronic conditions in both adults and children, so it’s worth doing this practice.
I believe this kind of practice is particularly important right now. The more tools that we can create to help us navigate these difficult times with sanity and care, the better. Being able to take a break from the many things that weigh us down and just the stressors of everyday life, and really create quiet time for ourselves, is an important part of how we can navigate these challenging times.
Finally, in honor of my own spiritual retreat, I’ll be going dark for the first two weeks or so of January and will be refraining from blogging again until mid to late January. I’ll see you in 2022–may it be more joyous, healthful, sane, and kind than the last two years. Blessings!
Ghost Hunting Theories
It’s Hot Cocoa Weather!
Let’s indulge in many ways –
Bon Appetit’s Best Hot Cocoa
3 tablespoons cocoa powder (preferably Dutch-processed), plus more for serving
3 cups whole milk
6 ounces semisweet chocolate (preferably Scharffen Berger), finely chopped
3 tablespoons demerara or granulated sugar
Lightly sweetened whipped cream (for serving)
Bring ¾ cup water to a simmer in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Whisk in 3 Tbsp. cocoa powder until no lumps remain, then add milk and return to a simmer. Whisk in chocolate and sugar and cook, whisking frequently, until mixture is smooth and creamy and chocolate is melted, about 5 minutes.
Divide hot chocolate among mugs. Top with whipped cream and dust with cocoa powder.
HOT COCOA COOKIES WITH MARSHMALLOWS
1/2 cup butter
12-ounce bag semisweet chocolate chips
1 1/4 cups light brown sugar
3 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 ounces semisweet baking chocolate, cut into 1-inch pieces
16 large marshmallows, cut in half
In a medium saucepan, over medium heat, melt the butter and the 12 ounces of semisweet chocolate chips. Stir constantly until just melted. Remove from heat and let stand for 5 minutes to slightly cool.
In a large bowl, combine the brown sugar, eggs, and vanilla. Beat with an electric hand mixer, on medium speed just until blended. Beat in the cooled chocolate mixture just until combined.
Add the cocoa powder, flour, baking powder, and salt. Mix on low speed just until combined. Cover bowl with saran wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper. Scoop and drop the cookie dough by the tablespoon, onto the prepared cookie sheets. You should fit 12 cookies per sheet, and making sure to space them at least 2 inches apart.
Bake cookies for 12 minutes. Remove cookies from oven and place one piece of chocolate on the center top of each cookie, and then top each chocolate with one half marshmallow. Place cookies back in oven and bake another 4 minutes.
Bigfoot-feet-shaped marshmallows I made for my investigation team.
Vegetable oil, for brushing
4 envelopes unflavored gelatin (3 tablespoons plus 1 1/2 teaspoons)
3 cups granulated sugar
1 1/4 cups light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
- Brush a 9-by-13-inch glass baking dish with oil. Line with parchment, allowing a 2-inch overhang on the long sides. Brush parchment with oil; set aside.
- Put granulated sugar, corn syrup, salt, and 3/4 cup water into a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring to dissolve sugar. Cook, without stirring, until mixture registers 238 degrees on a candy thermometer, about 9 minutes.
- Meanwhile, put 3/4 cup cold water into the bowl of an electric mixer; sprinkle with gelatin. Let soften 5 minutes.
- Attach bowl with gelatin to mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. With mixer on low speed, beat hot syrup into gelatin mixture. Gradually raise speed to high; beat until mixture is very stiff, about 12 minutes. Beat in vanilla. Pour into prepared dish, and smooth with an offset spatula. Set aside, uncovered, until firm, about 3 hours.
- Sift 1 cup confectioners’ sugar onto a work surface. Unmold marshmallow onto confectioners’ sugar; remove parchment. Lightly brush a sharp knife with oil, then cut marshmallow into 2-inch squares. Sift remaining 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar into a small bowl, and roll each marshmallow in the sugar to coat.
Mexican Hot Cocoa
6 (12-ounce) cans evaporated milk 4 teaspoons ground cinnamon 1 tablespoon vanilla extract 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg Pinch cayenne pepper 2 (12-ounce) bags semisweet chocolate chips (recommended: Hershey’s) Cocoa powder, for serving
Stovetop: In a large pot over medium heat, whisk together milk, cinnamon, vanilla extract, and nutmeg. Add chocolate chips. Stir until chocolate is melted. Cover and turn heat to low for 5 minutes. For slow cooker: In a 4-quart slow cooker, whisk together milk, cinnamon, vanilla extract, and nutmeg. Add chocolate chips. Cover and cook on LOW setting for 2 to 3 hours, stirring every 15 to 20 minutes. Serve with a dusting of cocoa powder.
Melt dark chocolate, semi-sweet chocolate, or white chocolate onto a plastic spoon. Add tiny marshmallows, candied ginger, peanut butter, crushed candy canes, cinnamon — refrigerate to harden. Wrap with saran wrap and tie with a ribbon, have at the ready for stirring.
ADD-INS FOR HOT COCOA
Stir with a peppermint stick
Add Kahlua, rum, or Bailey’s Irish Creme
cinnamon, nutmeg, whipped cream, marshmallows, ginger, coffee granules, cayenne
Best Things To Dip In Hot Cocoa
Cookie recipe above
peanut butter cookies
Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory
Allowing Ourselves to Receive
By allowing ourselves to receive, we are given the gift of seeing through another person’s eyes.
Giving and receiving are part of the same cycle, and we each give and receive in our own ways. But we can lose our balance when we try to be too controlling on either side of the cycle. On the receiving end, we may feel that we don’t deserve the effort made if what we gave was easy for us to give. But perhaps there is a different lesson there for us. We may be receiving not only gratitude but a chance to see the world through the eyes of another. We may be learning that just because we gave easily, it doesn’t diminish its value. Or perhaps the universe is giving us an example to hold close to our hearts, to encourage us on some future day when our own generous act of giving is not met with a visible act of receiving. When we can allow ourselves to receive as well as give, we do our part to keep the channels of abundance open for ourselves and others.
Sometimes we may find ourselves struggling to respond to others’ gifts in the same ways — like responding to an expensive present with something equally expensive, or feeling like we have to throw a dinner party for someone who has thrown one for us. But when these are done out of a sense of obligation, their energy changes from something that shares to something that drains. If this sounds familiar, we can decide next time to allow ourselves to receive with arms, minds and hearts open and simply say thank you.
Accepting a person’s gift is a gift in itself. Sincere appreciation for their acknowledgment and their effort joins our energy with theirs in the cycle of giving and receiving and nurtures all involved. If ever we find we are still having difficulty, we can decide to allow ourselves to be conduits for gratitude and accept on behalf of a loving, giving universe.
Gilberto Rides Again by Stephen Halpert Chapter 33
Gilberto’s stomach lurched. He could taste his lunch. He swallowed hard. “Never seen anything like that.”
“You’re fortunate. Touch nothing.” Rain reached into her bag and handed him a pair of disposable gloves. “Put these on.”
She opened her phone, called in, and reported the incident to Smith.
“Out,” she said abruptly as she closed her phone. “Out now,” Smith’s orders.” They hurried from the apartment and down to the lobby.
Gilberto shuddered. “Whoever did this has a lot of hate inside,” he said.
“He used that knife like a saw,” Rain said.” Sadistic.”
Again his stomach lurched, this time worse. He hurried out ahead of Rain and took deep breaths. The cool night air chilled his bones. Despite his warm jacket, he shivered.
He turned to Rain “You’ve seen that kind of murder before?”
She nodded. “Something like that. But cold, calculating, death squad stuff. This was more insane, crazed.”
They walked back to the sedan. “Why?” Gilberto said.
“We’ll find out. Murder like that has to have its own reckoning. Or else be totally crazy.”
“I guess,” Gilberto said. “Nothing about this fall of Atlas makes sense to me. One minute Buzz is out to acquire a shoestring outfit in North Carolina, he plans to sell to the Chinese, the next thing we know, he’s dead.”
“Who told you about a sale to the Chinese?”
“Sarah Midgley,” Gilberto said.
She smirked. “May or may not be true. Anything coming out of her mouth is suspect.”
They reached the sedan. Jesse opened the doors for them, they got in. He quickly drove away.
Rain turned and gave Gilberto a wry smile. “Don’t look for any reason or substantiation. It will only confuse your thinking. Just accept it for what it is and get past it. You never fought in a war,” she said. “War can toughen one up in unmistakable ways.”
He nodded, wondering what she was getting at.
She went on. “Let whatever you saw, regardless how horrible it was, let it slide out of your memory and free you up. A traffic accident could have appeared worse.”
He nodded but remained quiet.
“Yes, I know, life is fragile. But not much around death makes any sense except the finality of death itself.”
He nodded and breathed. “Yes, but-“
She went on again. “Death can be irrational Gilberto. Don’t try to make sense out of it.”
He nodded, shivered. Time seemed to have stopped. Despite what Rain said he couldn’t get past that mangled bloody corpse.
They drove past the Pike exit down Commonwealth Avenue toward Charles Street. Then took a left turn and Jesse parked the sedan beside his condo.
“I’ll go up with you,” Rain said. Though her voice appeared soft, her posture and her movements were firm and strong.
The moment Maria saw him she knew something awful had transpired. She threw her arms around Gilberto. Tears filled her eyes.
“He’s sensitive,” Rain said. “Much more sensitive than he lets on.” She took Maria’s hand. “Your compassion and understanding are needed now.” She turned to him. “Thanks for going with us, Gilberto. Get some rest and we’ll talk tomorrow.” Then quite out of character she hugged him, smiled, turned and left.
Maria led him into the bedroom. She closed their door and hugged him.
“Whatever you saw must have been devastating.”
He closed his eyes. It felt so good to have her hold him. She guided him to the bed and carefully helped him out of his clothes and into his pajamas.
Softly she whispered. “Not now. It’s too soon. But when you can please tell me all about it.”
He nodded. ” Promise.” Tears filled his eyes.
She climbed into bed beside him. He hugged her. “I’m no James Bond,” he said. “I learned that tonight.”
“I’m glad,” she softly kissed his cheeks. You’re my Gilberto and you don’t ever have to pretend to be an action hero. You’re my lover,” she whispered. “Gentle, kind, compassionate, real, human. That’s what I want. That’s what suits me.”
Tears filled his eyes. “It was, it was,” he choked, “horrible,” he whispered. “I’ve never seen a bloody corpse like that.”
She held him. “Not just a stab wound?”
“Oh no, this was carnage. Whoever did that has to be insane; crazy.”
She held him, stroking his shoulders, giving him all the loving concern she could to calm his being.”
“Does Sarah Midgley wield a knife?”
He frowned and shook his head. “She’d have to be a lot crazier than we’ve given her credit for.”
“I can’t think of anyone else,” she sighed. “I hope the police find her before she can cause any more havoc.”
“I don’t think a woman could have done that. It was just too barbaric.” He sighed and held her. “Frankenstein’s mother maybe.”
Sher smiled. “I’m glad agent Rain is on it; I like her. She’s one smart customer if you ask me.”
“I know,” Gilberto said. “Somehow she knows how to stay contained. The training she went through must have been mind shattering.”
“I’m sure,” Maria said. It’s almost like in some far out way she’s bionic.”
“Up there with Wonder Woman,” he smiled
“So the killer has to be Sarah Midgley.” Maria said flatly. “Why not? I think she’s crazy enough to butcher someone. And who else is there anyway?”
“Maybe,” Gilberto said. “You might be right. Won’t argue with you.”
The phone rang. It was Ramon. He sounded agitated. “The Atlas Building,” he began. “Someone torched it. It’s going up in flames. It’s on TV, on the local news.”
“Wow,’ Gilberto said. ” I wonder who’s got it in for Atlas and why? Did Buzz do something to provoke this terrible chain of events? Who could it be?”
“I wonder too,” Ramon said. “The Chinese maybe? Can’t think of who’s to benefit if Atlas falls.”
“All we can do is let it burn,” Gilberto said. “Go have fun with Rosa. You’ll have a way better evening
Ramon laughed. “For sure! Got that right.”
Gilberto hung up and put his arms around Maria. He sighed and smiled. “I have you and that’s all that matters to me.”
(To be continued)
Kitty Kat’s Korner
By Phillip Mlynar
Anyone who’s adopted a cat has inevitably made up a goofy ditty about their beloved kitty at some point — and it seems that musicians and pop stars are just as willing to let feline muses inspire their songs. Here’s a spotlight on seven tracks written about cats that are prime for your next playlist.
Stray Cat Strut (Stray Cats)
Rockabilly trio the Stray Cats scored big with 1981’s Stray Cat Strut, a song that explores the daily trials, tribulations and psychology of a feral black and ginger alley cat. The hero of the song — who is cast as a “feline Casanova” — struts around looking for brawls with other kitties, howling at the moon and snagging dinner from garbage cans. “I got cat class and I got cat style,” the protagonist ultimately purrs, signing off with pure feline sass.
Tron Cat (Thundercat)
Before winning a Grammy for his work with rapper Kendrick Lamar, Los Angeles-based funk singer and bass player Thundercat broke through with this equal parts tender and tongue-in-cheek tribute to his rescue cat Tron. Over gently jittering production, Thundercat trills, “Don’t you ever leave me Turbo Tron / Don’t ever wonder where I’m going.” Elsewhere in Thundercat’s cat-centric discography, the mellifluous Dragonball Durag finds him lauding the virtues of turning up for a date proudly covered in cat hair.
Felines have inspired musicians throughout the ages and various genres (for example, funk musician Thundercat, 1960s British singer Petula Clark and 1980s rockabilly band Stray Cats)
Delilah (Queen) Nestled on theatrical pop-rockers Queen’s 1991 Innuendo album, Delilah is an ode to lead singer and confirmed cat fancier Freddie Mercury’s most treasured feline, the titular Delilah. Delving into the finicky and temperamental aspect of living with cats, Mercury at one point laments, “You make me so very happy when you cuddle up and go to sleep beside me / And then you make me slightly mad when you pee all over my Chippendale suite.” But don’t worry — the song ends with Mercury and Delilah kissing and making up.
Top Cat (Slick Rick) Renowned as hip-hop’s greatest ever storyteller, golden age rapper Slick Rick turned his conceptual chops to feline pursuits on this 1991 release. Fueled by a jaunty backdrop that includes rhythmic sampled meows, the narrative opens with kitty Rick “skipping through an alley in New York, a stray kitten,” before he’s chased by a dog, taken home by an affluent lady and put to work as a mouser.
The Cat In The Window (The Bird In The Sky) (Petula Clark)
Petula Clark came to prominence with her upbeat 1960s smash Downtown, but the English singer’s deep back catalog also includes this more reflective exploration of what cats are thinking when gazing out of a window watching birds glide by. Backed by dreamy flute lines, Clark ponders whether cats are secretly envious that they can’t fly — and even suggests that contemplating a lack of wings is enough to bring a tear to any kitty’s eye.
Old Black Cat (Ian Anderson)
When not holding down duties as the lead singer of prog-rock trailblazers Jethro Tull, you might find Ian Anderson penning songs about cats. Featured on his 2003 Rupi’s Dance solo album, Old Black Cat is a poignant tale that opens with Anderson’s faithful feline passing away, before he goes on to fondly reminisce about a kitty who possessed “a wide-eyed innocence” and was partial to dancing on roofs and sneaking in bites of the Sunday dinner.
Phenomenal Cat (The Kinks)
British rockers The Kinks’ psychedelic rock-spiked 1968 Phenomenal Cat tells the philosophical fable of a portly kitty who loves to spend his days wallowing around and filling his belly. After discovering the secret of life during a trip to Hong Kong, the newly enlightened kitty decides on a new agenda: “He gave up his diet and sat in a tree / And ate himself through eternity.” It’s clearly advice that many cats are still faithfully following to this day.
Have a favorite feline-centric song not on this list? One that’s about an actual cat? Let us know by emailing us at email@example.com
Georgia Nicols Weekly Horoscope:
Sunday, December 26, 2021
Since 2019, Jupiter has been in signs ruled by Saturn, which brought restrictions to travel, hardships and a restructuring of beliefs. This week, Jupiter enters Pisces for the first time since 2010, which will create more interest in dream work, spiritual retreats, the arts, dance, music and the theatre. Jupiter in Pisces will encourage compassion, sympathy and spirituality. This is comforting. By New Year’s, people will start to feel empowered with love and understanding, as well as a stronger sense of reality. Einstein said, “Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.” Robin Williams said, “Reality is just a crutch for those who can’t cope with drugs.” I think Lily Tomlin nailed it, “Reality is the leading cause of stress.”
Aries (March 21-April 19)
With the Sun at the top of your chart, you look fabulous in the eyes of others. That’s because you’re thrust in this flattering spotlight! This week a discussion with a boss or a parent will be intense, almost obsessive. Easy does it. Something else at play will make you identify strongly with your beliefs about politics, religion or racial issues. This could prompt arguments! (Hey, you need this like a fish needs a bicycle.) Instead, be open to the increasing influence that will manifest for you this year, which is one that encourages spirituality and the exploration of your inner world. “Hello? Is anybody in there?”
Taurus (April 20-May 20)
Your desire to explore ideas, places and other cultures continues to be strong. Meanwhile, something will prompt an increased interest in understanding how societies work. You might investigate or advocate legal matters. You will have a strong desire to travel, but will Covid restrictions permit this? Disputes about shared property, insurance issues and inheritances will arise for some of you. As Jupiter moves into your House of Friendships this year, you will enjoy warmer interactions with others and more involvement with groups and organizations. You’ll also be more popular!
Gemini (May 21-June 20)
As Jupiter changes signs this week, it starts to move to the top of your chart. This is excellent news! It means that people will view you as successful and affluent, even if this isn’t true. However, in most cases, something really will create this impression. You will get a promotion, a raise, an award – something will radiate success! Be patient with others, especially with disputes about shared property. Likewise, be patient if you are dealing with someone who has different values from yours. Sometimes you simply have to agree to disagree. Mars opposite your sign this week will make you easily irritable with others. Remember: Patience is the antidote to anger.
Cancer (June 21-July 22)
Very likely, you will have an intense discussion with a close friend or partner this week. We’re talking intense, really intense. It could be a power struggle. Perhaps this is connected to your work because you are gung-ho to work very hard now. Or perhaps it is connected to your increasing desire to travel and “get away from all this.” You will also start to have more chances to explore opportunities in publishing, the media, medicine and the law and certainly higher education. Many of you will want to go back to school or take a course. Perhaps you will write that book or finish that screenplay? You’ve got a plan!
Leo (July 23-Aug. 22)
As the holiday season starts to wrap up, you’re swinging into work mode. Oh yes, you want to be productive and you want to get a lot done! You might have a grand plan to achieve something in a certain amount of time? Many of you will pare down and streamline something related to your work. You will also have a strong desire to improve your health now. (“I want it all and I want it delivered!”) The good news is that Jupiter, the sign of wealth and expansion, is now entering one of your Money Houses. (How sweet it is.) This means you will more easily attract money to you from other sources, especially through partners. Likewise, it will be easier to get a loan or a mortgage this year. Ka-ching!
Virgo (Aug. 23-Sept. 22)
For you, the holiday season is still going strong because you’re in party mode. Perhaps there is an increased involvement with kid’s activities? Perhaps your family continues to enjoy family gatherings and fun times? This strong interest in light hearted, playful matters could be involving sports as well as the arts and anything to do with the entertainment world. Certainly, you will seek escape now if possible, because increased chaos and activity on the home front might be a lot to deal with. The really good news is that Jupiter will now be opposite your sign for the first time since 2010, beautifully improving all your relations with others. Lucky you!
Libra (Sept. 23-Oct. 22)
Your focus on home, family and your private life continues. Be patient with family members, especially this week because intense discussions will encourage disputes. It’s so easy to think that something is terribly important and has to be resolved right now. But ironically, when the annals of history are written, does any of this really matter? You like to control what’s happening at home because the ambience of your home is important you. Nevertheless, as a member of the human tribe, you know this is not always possible. Let’s face it, harmony is important to you. Sometimes it’s better to go along to get along. This could be one of those times.
Scorpio (Oct. 23-Nov. 21)
This continues to be a busy, fast-paced time for you. So much to do, so little time! You’re enjoying schmoozing with others; nevertheless, this week, you might find yourself at odds with someone because you want to convince them to agree with you. You strongly believe in your views! We both know you are strong willed and opinionated. This is a given. You also like to control a situation. But what is your long-term objective? Isn’t it to be happy? If you want to be happy this week, maybe the way to achieve your own personal happiness is to lighten up when dealing with others? Jupiter is going into the most fun part of your chart this year. Vacations! Romance! Good times! You have so much to look forward to!
Sagittarius (Nov. 22-Dec. 21)
“Show me the money!” Right now, there are four planets in your Money House. Obviously, your personal wealth is on your mind. This might provoke an intense discussion with someone about your money or something that you own. (Believe me, you have strong feelings!) And with fiery Mars is in your sign, you’ll be coming on like gangbusters! But hey, is this the way to achieve your goals? Might a lighter approach will work better? Physical exercise is a good idea now to blow off some of your pent-up steam. Meanwhile, lucky Jupiter is moving into the part of your chart related to home and family, which means your living situation will improve this year. You might also expand your family!
Capricorn (Dec. 22-Jan. 19)
You continue to hold all the cards because the Sun is in your sign along with Mercury, Venus and Pluto. Oh yes, it’s all about you, dear Capricorn. However, here’s the deal. This week, Mercury in your sign will line up with Pluto in your sign, which will make you a force to contend with! You might encounter opposition from others. Or in turn, others might feel threatened by you? You might also become totally preoccupied with a particular point of view, which makes you fail to see the bigger picture. Be aware that all these things are possible. Also be aware that these things are within your control. For your own peace of mind, take the high road. Be forgiving with others. Reduce your expectations.
Aquarius (Jan. 20-Feb. 18)
This is a busy time of year for so many; nevertheless, a handful of planets are actually “hiding” in your chart, which means you’re happy to take a backseat. You will prefer to work alone or behind the scenes and avoid the insanity of whatever is going on around you. Actually, this influence will help you to do any kind of research because you have the focus and the mental endurance to do so. Furthermore, you’re motivated! You want to get to the bottom of something. You want the truth. Physical competition in sports and dealing with teams might be a factor right now. Meanwhile, Jupiter is starting to move into your Money House, which means you will soon get richer! Yay me!
Pisces (Feb. 19-March 20)
This continues to be a popular week for you. In fact, many of you will be hanging out with younger people more than usual as well as artistic, creative people. Do be aware that you will be tempted to convince others to agree with you. “The hour is now! To the gates!” However, don’t get your belly in a rash. Mars at the top of your chart arouses your ambition, and this makes you want to lead others and persuade them to agree with you. You have to ask yourself how much this really matters? Put things in perspective. Lucky Jupiter is about to enter your sign for the first time since 2010. Your world is going to become major horseshoes! Relax.
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