Monday, May 30, 2011

Retro Recipe Monday: Soup to Nuts Cake

For Memorial Day Weekend, we will continue with the delightful Thoughts for Buffets. This recipe is either delicious or horrible, I can't tell which. Probably horrible.

Soup to Nuts Cake

1 tablespoon butter
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups all purpose flours
1 scant teaspoon baking soda
1 cup raisins, preferably yellow, scalded and dried
1 cup chopped nuts
1 cup canned condensed tomato soup

Cream butter and sugar. Sift dry ingredients together; add nuts and raisins. Add this mixture alternately with the tomato soup to the butter and sugar. Grease a loaf pan (10"x5"x3") very well, and line bottom with wax paper. Bake 1 1/2 hours in a 275 degree oven. Don't look; just let it bake. Frost with Vanilla Butter Cream Frosting.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Top o' the Page at Witchvox!

A completely new article of mine called It Ain't Easy: Pagan and Unemployed.

Friday, May 27, 2011

We're Not Past This Yet

As many of you know, Mrs. B has been kicking ass and taking names in this Moms of Faith Top 25 Blog contest, which also means that you're probably aware that some other bloggers don't think that Pagans belong in the contest (not just Christians now, kids! A Jewish blogger took up the cause too today). Mrs. B blogs about all her experience here.

I have to confess something. I thought we were past this. I really did. There are Wiccans represented in mainstream television, most people don't bat an eye anymore if you say you're a Wiccan (which I tend to do to with strangers frankly, I'm not interested in giving an eclectic Pagan 101 every time I meet someone), my mother begrudgingly will acknowledge it as a faith, albeit through the filter of Charmed but hey, I'm not picky, I'll take what I can get.

It wasn't always like this of course. Even here in liberal New Jersey when I first started I knew to keep my trap zipped about my beliefs. A friend had her car keyed because of her bumper stickers and had been pulled over by the cops for them on occasion. I keep my pentacle under my shirt under most circumstances and my altar was an altar to Mary, Mother of the Sea as far as my mother was concerned. But that was fifteen years ago and I guess I've gotten spoiled living here.

I don't think it's just about living here though. My oldest and dearest friend is born and bred from Kansas and I would consider her a Conservative Christian. B. can party like a rock star, she can toss back shots like a champ, she's the first one on the dance floor and she has a wicked sense of humor. She is also one of the sweetest people with the biggest heart and capacity for joy wit a strong sense of faith. She also doesn't take any shit. B. has never once so much as made a "well, I don't agree but that's for you and the big JC to take up later" noise. She's happy I have faith and believe in something and try to be a good person. When I'm struggling with a moral dilemma, we're often on the same page together. She and my mom are who I think of when I think of good Christian women.

This. . . .debatacle is not what I think of. And I know most of the women in the faith aren't like this but I thought we were past this and it makes me sad and feel gross that there are people who think we're bad people going to hell because of our faith. I mean I guess it's the same bubble around here about the LBGT community, I knew girls who got beat up for holding hands and now it's more, "I'm gay." "And?" (coming out is still a thing for some of course, ymmv).

Alix Olsen once said "And I think/post-feminist is presumptuous" and I agree, we're not all equal yet, sorry. I had thought with Pagans in the military that maybe we were past religious bigotry against Pagans and . . .we're not. And it makes me sad, just like the bigotry against Muslims makes me sad. It also reinforces why I'm frankly never moving. I need to live in a place where it's okay for me to be different in all those fun and interesting ways I'm different and I need a community, preferably a large one like I have in New Jersey. And I'm grateful for all the community I have and accepting people I have in my life.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

I'm Not Clergy and You Can't Make Me

So, it's been super fun living with me lately as I am constantly on a verge of massive self discovery and/or a nervous breakdown. I'm either going to really build my pagan empire (which is a different story!) or make everyone else stab me to death nineteen times trying.

I'm not good with uncertainty and everything has been fraught with it since my company closed. Sometimes I can't sleep well for no real reason beside a hormone dip maybe or just general flailing.

I am trying to:
* Write my book
* Start lecturing again
* Get a stable source of income
* Work unstablely
* Have a put together life with a nice house, nice car and look like I wasn't mauled by tigers when leaving the house
* Go to the gym
* Start my crafting business

It's been difficult. Kelly Cutrone in her awesome book If You Have to Cry, Go Outside talks about how in your twenties, Durga's tiger is riding you. In your thirties, it is your job to ride that fucking tiger. And oh lordess am I trying. But the tiger is tricksy and clever and sometimes wins.

So, this leads us to today where Jow has the enviable job of attempting to talk me down from hyperventilating in a scrunched up ball about what a fucking disaster I am and what a mess my life is and I'm not a good writer and I'm not a good anything and all those hysterics that make artistes such a fucking joy to live with. He eventually gets simmered down with the promise of list writing to start my pagan empire and somehow that got us talking about the lack of laypeople in paganism and how everyone wants to be a grand high pagan priestess all Six Sigma crazylike.

I mean, as always, Gordon articulates it much better on how we all need to kind of calm the hell down and we all don't need to be the top of the heap in cultural practices not indigenous to our own but let's talk about my feelings on the matter.

See, I too wanted to be a special pony-princess-priestess at one time. Hell! Let's really get real here, I called myself a shaman for like half my twenties! But we're like suuuuuuper fixated on titles in the first world. Titles, as my panicky hamster brain reminds me, tell us who we are and what we do and what we can expect from life. I obviously like titles in much of my life, especially titles that assert prestige. I am too snotty to call myself a mere baby sitter, I'm a nanny thank you. Admin? Um, no. Executive Assistant. So *obviously* for like the first 3/4 of my Pagan life I wanted my six sigma priestess merit badge and I would be respected and revered at 25 as is the natural course of things.

Yeah. Well. Around 28ish when I started transitioning from maiden to mother, a thought became crystal clear: You don't know a goddamn thing about anything. Naturally, this was terrifying to a know-it-all like myself. But then I thought about my spiritual mentors - N. who refuses to be a teacher to anyone but wound up in clergy despite her best efforts to dodge that dodgeball hurling at her and S. who despite founding said circle has always been adamant about our circle being non hierarchical and that she is v. much *not* in charge.

When I started to wake up to the reality of what clergy really means: death rites, marriages you know aren't going to work that you need to perform anyway, being political and keeping your mouth shut, lots of unpaid labor, being forced to mediate "she's on my side of the chair" fights, I started thinking heeeeeeeeeeeeey back away slowly, you need that aggro like you need a hole in your damn head, you have enough problems.

And I do. I wonder why in paganism especially it seems that we all need to be experts, priest/esses and basically the person who knows the most. I wonder what that says about us as a people? I mean, surely we can't all be awesome people-people with seemingly never ending amounts of patience and kindness. It's not like it pays anything or even carries much prestige at the end of the day outside of the pagan/occult community. But yet . . .most of us seem to want it like a wanting thing and I wonder why that is. It took me like ten out of fourteen years of my Pagan practice to stop that. Because . . .you know what? I don't want to be held up as an infallible expert, I don't need that pressure in my life. I don't need to be the realest of the real, the family trad-ist of the family trad, the most authentic misappropriator . . .I don't. I know some stuff about some stuff. A bit of hoodoo, a bit of voodoo, a bit of shamanism, a bit of dianic wicca, a bit of ADF druidry but nothing that impressive in terms of degrees and accomplishments. And . . .that's okay. For better or worse, we're mostly a culture of dabblers as Pagans. That doesn't mean you should mash everything together whether it fits or not, but the minute that someone expects me to put on a mask and tries to make me pretend to be perfect at what I do and that my life is a Stepford bed of perfection, that's when I'm out. I don't want to be clergy and I don't want to be an expert.

Maybe this is a little kumbaya but frankly I just want to write and talk about my experiences and how I do things and teach people how to do them and get ideas circulating and make sure we all (myself included) have our critical thinking brains on at all times, *especially* when it involves ourselves. I want to be able to teach without the expectation that it means my life is perfect and I'm unaware of my flaws, I'd rather be relatable. I'd rather you say, well if this chick can do it, surely there's hope for me. It's Rachel Ray and Penelope Trunk's charm. I'd rather learn together and I'd rather someone say hey this thing you said didn't work for me and me saying okay let's try to figure out something that will. It's scary on the back side of the panel with all the expectant looks that surely you must know the answer because you are on the answer side of the panel but I'm going back out to the answer side of the panel, hot mess and all because I feel like it's where I should be and this time I'm ready for it and have the blueprint for what I can share with the world.

So, as they say, here goes everything!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Recipe Monday: Sweetbreads Marechal

Moar from Thoughts for Buffets. This one is probably gross? But more confusing to my modern palate than anything, I have no idea what this would taste like. Volunteers are always welcome!

Sweetbreads Marechal

2 pounds sweetbreads, soaked 15 minutes in cold water
2 large onions, finely chopped, sauteed in butter
2 10 ounce cans tomato soup, undiluted
1 cup commercial sour cream
Sugar to taste
Toast points

Cook sweetbreads in boiling, salted water for 20 minutes; drain and remove membrane. Roll the sweetbreads in the sauteed onions; add soup, sour cream and sugar. Heath lightly, but thoroughly. Serve on toast points.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

On Home Ownership and Hearths

So, my PEH (platonic Euro husband for those who are new) posted about home ownership and makes a lot of good very valid points. I've been thinking a lot about home ownership as I am a fairly recent homeowner. He's right about being sold a faulty dream for a lot of people, I know people who got in at the wrong time and now are in over their heads by a lot. The fact that we're still aspiring to being a "land owner" hundreds of years later is crazy, we're still holding onto that cache that being a "land owner" (home owner) meant you were upper crust.


Just to play devil's advocate, here's why I'm a home owner:

1. I'm incredibly boring. I've lived in the same area for more than half my life. I like it here, my friends are here, my family is here, good pagan groups are here, you can be a weekender in a subculture without it having to be your life, I'm an hour away from NYC, two from Philly/A.C., there's ocean within reach. As L. pointed out, I can posture all I want but the fact is I am ridiculously stupidly rooted here and unlikely to ever not be, past traveling (I love to travel but I get homesick something fierce) so may as well buy something.

2. Because NJ is so ridiculously wealthy overall, something called The Mount Laurel Project happened which basically said you can't push out working class/middle classes out of a town by only building property that rich people can buy, it's not fair. Thus every new development that's built, a certain amount of rental units, condos, etc need to be set aside so that low income and moderate income people can buy/rent a home in a good area. Jow and I qualified for a "moderate income" condo. You go to your township, show them your income info, get a letter of recommendation from a mortgage company saying they'll likely give you a mortgage and then you're entered into a lottery. You can say no to as many as you want, but it's unknown when your name will come up again. Our first one was so . . .old and run down and craptastic, we didn't even get up the nerve to go in. The second one was in the complex I grew up in (which yes, means I live v. close to my mom but luckily she's like a vampire and doesn't come in unless invited so there's no "surprise visits") which is about fifteen years old, nice neighborhood, pool, tennis courts, garbage dumpster verses trash day (which I prefer) and weirdly lower association fees than the first place which did not have a pool or a tennis court.

3. Since it's a condo, it's not unlike an apartment in the good ways - roof, shoveling snow, mowing the lawn, taking care of the outside of our place is Not Our Problem. It's a good size for us, in Paris or NYC it would be considered roomy, in NJ it's considered small but we have our own washer/dryer, the kitchen is decently sized, we each have our own closet and a home office. It's big enough to throw a good party but small enough to discourage long term visitors. It's not overly expensive to heat or air condition. It's small enough that Jow and I can clean it on our sloppiest day in a day if we're being ambitious.

4. It made financial sense for us. At the time, the government was giving an $8K incentive for first time home owners (which was a good chunk of our down payment), it worked out (with the association fees, property tax, etc) to about what we were paying in rent. It is unknown as to if there will be any kind of social security left by the time we need it and neither Jow nor I work for a big enough company to get a really bangin' 401K/retirement option where we'd get pensions or the company matches a substantial amount of money which means we do need to focus on our retirement. A big part of that focus is that we have a roof over our heads so we have money for piddly things like not eating cat food. There's also the matter of since this is part of a county program, while we'll never make a huge sum of money should we ever want to move, we are also *guaranteed* to make a small profit on our place no matter what the economy looks like.

5. Both Jow and I have spent our twenties as most people do, moving around a lot (him more than me!). I have never owned a place to live in that is likely to be mine for at least 5-7 years (like a prison bid as I like to cheerfully say), likely longer. I wanted to know what the energy would be like in terms of creating a hearth. I can only speak to my own experience, but our energy has been building in our home because we treat it like our home, I had never personally been able to do that when renting (and that's on me, others' experiences may be different). We put a lot of energy (in painting, in decorating, in magical work) into making this place feel solid as a hearth, it feels more like a hearth to me but that could also have a lot to do with my particular place in life currently, building a hearth wasn't exactly high on my list of shit to do as a maiden, in the mother stage it's much more important to me. I also spend a lot more time here - working, playing, eating, entertaining, etc than I did in my other places in my twenties which again could definitely be life place attributed. My last apartment was so ridiculously big, we never fully unpacked and that energy definitely carried over. For me, home ownership was also about taking charge of my future post-divorce and making sure I had a place to live when I was old, it was also about starting my new life as a grown up and taking control of my financial life as well. It was a v. definite start into my new life and attempting to ride the tiger instead being ridden by the tiger.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Retro Recipe Monday: Brisket Arcadia

We're back to the classic Thoughts for Buffet Dinners. Get ready for a delicious mix of things that should never go together!

Brisket Arcadia

6 pounds brisket of beef
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon pepper
2 white potatoes, halved
2 pounds prunes, extra large
1 cup dark corn syrup
4 sweet potatoes, halved

Season meat as for roasting; place in a large stewing kettle so that meat lies flat. Cover with water about 3 inches above the meat. Bring to a boil and cover; simmer for about a 1/2 hour. Add syrup, prunes and white potatoes. Again, bring to a boil and cover; simmer for three hours. Skim fat, if desired. Add sweet potatoes; cover and again simmer for three more hours until meat is tender. Be certain that meat is always covered with liquid, and if necessary add more water. DO NOT STIR. Only shake the pot from side to side to be certain that meat is not sticking. The meat and potatoes should all be a luscious red-brown when prepared. To serve, surround brisket with the prunes and potatoes. This dish may be prepared the day before and reheated when ready to serve. Serves 8.

Friday, May 13, 2011

But I like you/ although you don't know it/ I like you so much I talk to everyone but you

As I previously mentioned, I'm def open to taking questions (feel free to email me at corvaxgirl [at] gmail [dot] [com]) about your magical quandaries and I am happy to give you my two cents. An anonymous reader expressed that she's often shy around boys and explained some of the things she's doing to work on it mundanely and queried what she should do magically.

First off, oh girl do I relate! If I like someone and I'm caught off guard about it, my response is to answer that person tersely, never look at zir, not instigate conversation and freeze up when s/he touches me in any way. OBVIOUSLY I MUST be interested!

Let's talk mundane tactics and then get to the magic awesome.

1. It's a panic response and it can be hard to train yourself out of it. But certainly not impossible. Think about what makes you do that. For me, if I'm in an unfamiliar setting and I don't know a lot of people and I don't know what the acceptable social convention is and other people all know each other, I flail. I flail because I don't know how to find basic things like food, water and the bathroom and I feel dumb for not knowing. HOWEVER. If you put me in a place where I know some people, generally know how to behave and what to expect, I can turn on the charm like whoa. Try to figure out what factors can help you do better.

2. Try reading The Game. Now, a lot of people get v. huffy puffy about this book and (YMMV of course) honestly? As a feminist I didn't find anything offensive about it - he empathizes how not to freak out women and if you fail, it's your fault not hers so you need to fix your game. Not all of it will apply necessarily and by the end it felt like a lot to juggle (all the hooking and stories and postures) but some of it is really helpful. I'm not great at approaching people unless it's literally my job, a lot of the advice was pretty helpful to me just in terms of that.

3. Try different venues for dating. For me, I tend to meet people a few ways: 1. As a friend of a friend at a party. 2. the intertubes 3. at a convention (where we have common interests) 4. Some combination there of. I've gone on a date where I met someone at a club or bar precisely once. I enjoy going, but it's not where I'm going to make a love connection. Try speed dating, try "it's just lunch", ask a friend to set you up, try a common interest place (renfaire, book club, con, wine club, whatever's your thing), try OKC, try a club and figure out where *you* do best.

Onto the magic-y goodness!

1. Start by writing down some things you would like in a partner while burning a red candle (ideally with some rose oil on it or a rose scented candle). Ask your god/dess/es for their help, maybe make them an offering of some kind of sweet and/or champagne. Sprinkle dried rose petals on the paper, roll it towards you and seal the paper with the red candle wax and put it in your lingerie drawer.

2. Glamour-ize yourself! Whenever you are going somewhere you could potentially meet someone, wear whatever makes you feel like a local goddess. If you don't wear heels, don't! Grimacing won't help you make a good impression. If you feel super hot in a tank top and jeans that make your ass look like *bam!*, wear that! But dress with intent. I find putting make up on to be soothing to this end (and if you don't, disregard), I feel like I'm carefully putting on an Amazon mask of glamourous awesomeness. Body image issues can be difficult for many people (and oh do I know first hand) but I find it imperative to be able to look in the mirror and say (issues and all), Goddamn I look amazing! And if you can't, I recommend a fake it til you make it approach (i.e. keep saying it to yourself every time you pass a mirror til you start to believe it).

3. And then kick it up a notch. Using an eyeshadow brush, concentrate on putting your will for what you want to happen into the symbols/words you inscribe onto yourself using clear hand sanitizer. Seal your sigils using Come to Me oil (I happen to like this particular brand and this particular shop).

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Recipe Monday/Tuesday: Mac and Cheese

Just as a heads up, I'm behind in correspondence for you lovely readers who have emailed me and I'm pretty crispy fried from not having enough down time lately. I'm also busily working on some products to launch Trevia and nannying and various other exciting real life stuff. Anyway. I'm catching up.

Somewhat Healthy Mac and Cheese (based off a Real Simple Recipe)

1/2 box whole wheat elbow pasta
1 head cauliflower, chopped
1/2 brick low fat cream cheese
1/2 cup 2% milk
1/2 cup white wine
1 cup shredded swiss cheese
1 tablespooon thyme
1 handful fresh parsley, chopped
dash of nutmeg
4 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons butter
4 pieces of pancetta, cooked and chopped
1 cup breadcrumbs
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 425. Cook pasta according to directions on the box in a stock pot, when adding the pasta, add the chopped cauliflower then drain when cooked.

Meanwhile, heat the butter on medium heat and add the garlic and brown it. Then add the rest of the ingredients except for the pancetta and breadcrumbs. When the sauce is smooth, combine with the pasta and cauliflower and add the pancetta in a baking dish. Put the bread crumbs on top. Put the baking dish in the oven for 15 minutes.


Wednesday, May 4, 2011

New Article Up on WitchVox

How to Make a Magical Focus Board

Monday, May 2, 2011

Recipe Monday: Pulling Mussels From a Shell

Previously, I had been afraid to make mussels because it just seems so involved. Nowadays, mussels are generally farmed and cheap, I got a couple pounds in a little net from Wegmans for like $6 which is a really good price imo. They're actually not as hard as you would think to make, you could make them during the week honestly. The shells are a little more fragile but not that much so.

Deb's Mussels in a White Wine Sauce

2 pounds cultivated mussels
2 cups white wine
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
5 cloves garlic, chopped
palmful of parsley, chopped
3 counts lemon juice
1 can organic diced tomatoes, drained and rinsed rinsed
2 whole wheat ciabatta rolls
salt and pepper to taste

Put the mussels in a bowl with water and ice for about a half hour to get rid of all sand and crap on them then drain using a pasta drainer. Discard any open mussels. Heat the oil and butter in a deep pan that has a lid that fits on it, uncovered. Saute the garlic. Add wine, parsley, lemon juice, tomatoes and salt and pepper until simmering. Add mussels and cover, checking periodically and stirring until most mussels open. Mine took about twenty minutes all told. Discard any mussels that did not open. Serve with bread to dip!