Tuesday, January 31, 2012

[New Year, New You] A Note/ Scenes From a Pagan Household

Stop being a pain.  YOU STOP BEING A PAIN!
Me: Well?

Jow:  The first part is really beautiful but the second part seems sort of like Something You've Been Putting Off.

Me (exasperatedly): It's a focus week!  Everyone's still putting something off!  I still haven't been to the gym yet during this!  The point is to do the specific work that's required for the goals this week.  Not work on other things to help make it stick this week, just do the damn thing.

Jow: Well, presumably everyone is doing that.

Me: I'm not even doing everything I'm supposed to be doing for my goals.  Yeah, I could give you some kind of bullshit task this week or you could chose to actually do the work you're supposed to do for your goals this week at this time like I said.

Jow: Touche.  You should post about that.

Me: Besides, you don't even understand.   The people who have been doing the Experiment the whole time?  We're all, like, on the same wavelength and are thinking about doing the same things at the same time which is why these prompts have been working so well.  Sooooo, they'll get it, we're all pinging each other from the wilds of internet ether.

Jow: You're right.  I'm totes not doing enough of this to be that in touch with all y'all's processes the way you are with each other right now.  And . . .that's probably for the best.

[New Year, New You] Weekly Writing Prompt: Shoulder to the Wheel

Me: I'm tired.

My Muse (gently): I know.

Me: Sometimes this gets really hard and I feel really lost and like I'm a hamster on a wheel, running, running, running.  I surrendered myself to this Experiment, to you.  But sometimes I don't know what that means and it scares me.  I can't even do divination for anything right now, it's all spinning so fast.  Am I my best?  Will this mean something?  Will all these 6a mornings and late nights and tiredness count?  Will I get ahead and finally not be in debt?  Will I screw that up like I always do?  Will I gain the weight I lost back?  Will I fuck everything up for myself like I always do?  Will Jow leave me if I get successful like others have?  Will I get my social life back?  Am I going in the right direction?  Will my book be good?  Will my course be good?  Will my crafts be good?  Will I be good?

My Muse: This is where it's important, where it's hard and you can't see in front of you and the forest is dark.  This is where you have to believe, which you've never been good at.  This is where you can't give up.  This is where you have to keep trying, even when you're not even sure what that means, even if it feels like sometimes no one else really understands all the Work you're doing.  It's important.  You're changing your insides, one piece of a star at a time.   You can do this.  You need to do this.  This is where you start to become who you want to be.  I believe in you or I never would have chosen you.  Keep pushing, tiny one.  Keep pushing.  In the meantime, you should smoke a bowl asap, you've earned it.

So we've been doing all these awesome things to help our goals and make sure that we're looking at these goals from all sides which is great holistic work to keep us moving forward and to make sure that nothing is overlooked.  But this week it's important to work on specific things to further your goals.  What's the hardest thing for you to do?  What do you keep putting off?  Do it now.  Grit your teeth and push, baby.  You're making something beautiful, don't stop now.   Show the universe what kind of wonders you're capable of this week.

Monday, January 30, 2012

[Recipe Monday] Pineapple-Strawberry-Banana Smoothie

Like this, only fatter.
So, long story short I have a sinus infection.  I've been sick on and off since Christmas with a constant back and forth between me, Jow and various children related and not as I'm a first year nanny.  I'm told by more experienced childcare professionals that my immune system will be strong as hell by next year but right now it's awful.  I'm now on a z-pack and today is a dozy as it's a double dose.

Jow and I had a nice lunch though at McCormick and Shmick's with yummy smoked duck pizza and bowls of smoky rich New England clam chowder.  Part of how I'm being less fat now (because I've lost seven pounds so far) is that when we have a rich lunch (and better then, more time to digest), we have a smoothie for dinner because we're not that hungry and we're tired and lame.  Tonight's smoothie!

Pineapple Strawberry Banana Smoothie
Makes 2
1 banana, broken into thirds
1 bag of frozen pineapple
1 cup fresh strawberries, hulled
1 cup orange juice
1 teaspoon flax seeds

Put it all into the blender and put it on high until smooth.  Done.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Glamour in the New World Order: We Are Who We Pretend to Be so We Must Be Careful Who We Pretend to Be

"We must dress well, or the future
will not take us seriously." - CMV
 Glamour can be a tricksy thing, I find.  On one hand, Jason is correct.  If you're interviewing for jobs in corporate America, you should be wearing a suit.  You all know how I feel about what to wear at a funeral.

But we diverge somewhat.  Because I do believe what you wear is part of who you are.  If you don't like that thought process, you're not going to like the rest of this entry either.  It's cool, we don't need to be in perfect Stepford agreement here.

More than that, it's part of your magic.  I've worn suits for work, trying to dress like my boss to get promoted.  It didn't work, I just felt like I was in drag all the time.  When I stopped giving a shit about impressing people at my work place and just wanted to do my job correctly and not get fired and frankly stopped caring past getting a paycheck, that's when the tide turned for me.  If conventional wisdom worked all the time, we'd all be CEOs of green Pagan multimillion dollar corporations, n'est-ce pas?

But yeah, when I played Nine Inch Nails in my cube and walked with purpose down the hall in heeled combat boots with sparkly laces, that's when I got promoted.  I would have kept getting promoted if I stayed but it was crushing me, living in a cube.

2012 is a year of starstorms.  I, like Gordon, invite you to think past just dressing like your boss.  You need to dress like you.  Your best you.  I invite you to start your own personal revolution.  That's what this Experiment is supposed to be about, right?  Stop coloring in the lines and worrying about being a good worker bee and start getting concerned about burning down the establishment your damn self and making shit happen for yourself.

You know what I'm supposed to be doing?  I was supposed to get another Executive Assistant job when my last company died and keep my shoulder to the wheel and keep doing what I was doing.

If you always do what you've always done, You.  Always.  Get.  What.  You've.  Always.  Gotten.  That's not what this Experiment is about.  It's about busting shit up and getting shit done.  I diverged off the path I was supposed to be on and I'm happier for it.  I make as much money as I was making as an Exec Assistant as a nanny.  A nanny.  Where I sing songs and have two to three hours of nap times a day and no direct supervision at all.  And when they don't nap anymore?  That's when I get a new fucking family.  That's how this works, every four years or so, I reset the clock and get new infants.  I've managed to turn a profit at almost every show I did for my first year out as a crafter.

I'm published all over the place in all kinds of things because I was preparing myself for the way publishing used to work.  It's great exposure and a little bit of money, but that's not what I'm doing when I write my first short book.   Who do I want to be?  Do I want to be like every indie artist trying to get a record deal for them to possibly just fire my ass when they don't like my numbers or the way I dress or that I cuss too much or do I want to be fucking Ani Difranco?

Ani Difranco, kids.

What does this have to do with glamour?  Well, while you're burning down your old ideas of how the world was supposed to work and drinking St. Germain in your pajamas at home in this new world order, you need to get to thinking about how you want to present the apres global meltdown you to yourself and others.  Glamour is magic.  A part of it is the magic of trappings, something that some Pagans and Geeks disdain in equal measures.  But not all Pagans and not all Geeks.  After all, SalonCon never would have happened if there weren't Geeks who dreamed of tea and corsets like I do.

There's a kind of Geek/Pagan privilege that  is rooted though not exclusively, predominantly in straight white middle class guys who think they shouldn't have to care about how they present themselves to the world, the gift of being their special snowflake selves should be enough for the world and if they never want to "get dressed up" for a girlfriend/a job/a wedding, they shouldn't have to.

I think you should want more for yourselves than that though because you're missing out.   SalonCon never required people to dress in suits and corsets with poofy skirts (though there were people who did), it was always about wearing what made you feel awesome and turned people's heads.

I've helped some of my more fashionably challenged friends to dress and groom themselves to be the best them that they could be.  I asked what they didn't like and why they didn't like it, what kind of budget they had and encouraged them to test their boundaries a little and helped them pick clothes that's not just appropriate to age/venue/etc but also appropriate to their own sense of style.  The transformation was always inevitably, well, like magic.

Use that knowledge.  Know yourself well enough to figure out your own sense of style while still being age and venue appropriate.  You won't get it right the first time and that's okay.  I didn't.  When I ran SalonCon I had this weird quasi-split personality where I'd have several people at once doing my hair, make up, nails and lacing me into corsets and difficult shoes so I presented myself as someone leading a convention about aesthetic should be presenting herself.  The rest of my life?  Hair in pony tail, yoga pants, t shirt and Uggs.  Did I feel my best in my day to day life?  No.  I did not.  I had such whiplash going from one extreme to another with the added stress of no longer being able to dress like a teenager/early twentysomething I didn't know what the fuck to do with myself.

I knew what looked good when I was 20, it was harder for me to figure out what looked good (and appropriate) once I got past the age of 25.   When my mom or my boss wanted to give input on what I should wear, it always felt kind of like wearing drag.  All that time being too disspirited to try to figure out didn't just affect my self esteem, it affected my magic because I felt out of step with myself.  I worked hard to figure out what looked good, was reasonably age appropriate and still felt like me.  That's part of the trick too, figuring out what the "rules" are for you and your life and then figuring out just how far you can bend them before they break.  It will be a work in progress as you age and your various life circumstances change but it's worth investing not just the time and money but the energy into.  The more energy you put into it, the more you'll be able to draw on your own personal glamoury in your magic.  Figure out what looks good on you and feels like you.  Figure out what makes you feel powerful about your appearance and use it, godsdamn it.  It's just one more facet to your magical self.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

[New Year, New You] Glamour in the Year of the Hustle

The New Year, New You Project is an experiment in Magical Radical Transformation.  Please see here for how to participate! 

Please remember to leave a link here to your blog entry with your response to this prompt or an update on your own Experiment.

So, I expected to be writing my response to the prompt just before writing the new prompt as I've been doing, but I actually had yesterday off which was nice.  My sister got me a bunch of spa stuff and a Lush gift card (and a hello kitty toaster because I love kitty like a loving thing).  What's important about that is that she, a much harder working Ferengi * than me, said that I deserved a chance to relax as I'm hustling so hard, I was flattered and thought yesterday would be a good day to do just that.

So I slept in and then started to prepare for a beauty rite as I have a lot of external and internal issues with feeling good about myself.

Deb's Rite for Beauty and Awesomeness

1.  If you have any beauty oriented god/desses, make an offering to them and if they're amendable to it, bring them into the bathroom to supervise.  I brought in Erzulie and Aphrodite who were happy to supervise while making sure their respective offerings were EXACTLY EQUAL.

2. Gather the following:
* 1/4 cup rose water
* 4 cups milk
* 1/4 cup honey
* 1/4 cup coarse sea or Kosher salt
* 1/8 cup olive oil
* Sage essential oil
* 1 tablespoon of finely crushed dried rose petals
* 2 chamomile teabags in cold water
* A face mask
* Loofah or scrubby gloves
* Moisturizer
* Fresh strawberries
* St. Germain
* Music
* Jasmine incense

3. Start by lighting the jasmine incense and putting on your music.  Then mix the salt and the olive oil together with the sage essential oil.  Step into the shower and concentrate on scrubbing off all the crap you feel about your body and shitty things people have said about your body.  While doing this I had the wistful thought, you used to be the May Queen. And I thought about how much I missed my old self, who was def not as wise or as organized, but who liked her body and liked to play.  I thought about how I would like to reclaim being May Queen and I focused on letting all the stuff that weighed me down and made me feel not good enough going down the drain.

4.  Start drawing a bath.  Add the milk, honey, rose water and dried petals.  Get in the tub.  Eat the strawberries and St. Germain and relax and open yourself up to being beautiful.

5. Put the face mask on and the chamomile teabags on your eyes.  Focus on relaxing and being beautiful.  Wash the mask off.

6. Get out of the tub and moisturize.   Admire how dewy your skin looks in the mirror.

7. If you're into self love, now's a good point to get down with that.

8. Put feather extensions in your hair so you're one step closer to looking like Aria Montgomery.  (Optional) (Mine are purple)

I feel more myself than I have in a long time and more in touch with my body than I have in a long time.  It feels really good to feel connected and to feel love for my body, it was a really powerful ritual for me.

* Mom gets huffy when I say that I come from a family of Ferengi because they are not aesthetically pleasing to her but when I explain that it's not about looks, it's about the drive, the hustle, the cunning, the tenacity and the ability to turn pennies into massive cash she is somewhat appeased.  As I come from a family of Ferengi, I'm definitely the Quark of the family - doing well when compared to our peers,  but by family standards- I'm awful with money (which makes everyone laugh when I say that because again, I'm pretty good with it but compared to my fam not so much)and a unrepentant artist/dreamer type, much like Quark as compared to the rest of his family.  However I will say my mom's side (including my mom and sis) take a great deal of satisfaction in having a rebel/artist/writer in their ranks, so there is that.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

[New Year, New You] Glamour and You

The New Year, New You Project is an experiment in Magical Radical Transformation.  Please see here for how to participate! 

Please remember to leave a link here to your blog entry with your response to this prompt or an update on your own Experiment.

Okay, so I know I totes promised that I'd start doing moon phases, etc. again but the truth of the matter is that a lot of my correspondence and blog writing is now being done during nap times (I'm a nanny by day) on (kindly lent) borrowed computers so I can't really save images, access my links, etc. (I know I could if I really wanted to but nap time is a finite period, Charmers)

We're drawing to a close on the first part of the Experiment, though there will be an eCourse offered right after this ends.  I just signed my copy editor for it so that it will be more polished than my blogging and it will be done as an automated email.  What that means is that you'll sign up and be able to get each lesson straight to your email box.  I will also have a Google group for people who are continuing with the Experiment to share their work with each other as we have been on the blogosphere.  If you're behind a few weeks, don't worry!  You can start the eCourse any time you want and share your thoughts on the list whenever you wanted.   We'll get into the nuts and bolts of that however once we start the next phase.

This week, I would like you to think about how you're presenting yourself to the world and how that's affecting your own personal goals.  The old cliche about looking your best helps you feel your best does have some merit, especially if you have love or job related goals.  It doesn't mean that you need to fit anyone else's mold of looking your best but your own.  If you don't like wearing makeup, don't.  If you don't like wearing a tie, don't.  This is about being the best personal you you can be and about feeling good in your own skin.

Some suggestions:

* If you would like to wear make up but have never really learned how, going to the MAC counter can be a good place to start (or asking a friend for help!) as 99% of the people (boys too) who work there are non judgemental as it's a safe haven for freaks on a leash who need a day job.

* Do your clothes fit you as well as they could?  If not, consider repairing them yourself if you can or taking them to be tailored.  That's a big celeb secret, they buy clothes that are as big as the biggest part of their bodies and then get the rest tailored.  Getting dress pants or a dress or your winter coat tailored can make a big difference in your wardrobe.

* Is your wardrobe missing something or you're in low supply of something?  Shoes, socks, outer wear, undergarments (if you wear a bra, you should get remeasured for one every six months) and accessories can make a big difference on how polished you look.

* Are you taking care of your skin, hair, teeth and nails?

* Are you drinking enough water, eating food that's kind to your body and getting some exercise in (even if it's housekeeping or a short walk)?

* Write a love letter to your body to tell it how much it rocks

* If you have trouble with self image, consider doing a magical work to make you feel better about yourself

Our physical selves often get neglected in magical workings, give your physical self some love and magic this week!

[New Year New You] My Response to Maps

The New Year, New You Project is an experiment in Magical Radical Transformation.  Please see here for how to participate! 

Please remember to leave a link here to your blog entry with your response to this prompt or an update on your own Experiment.

I've been thinking about where I wanted to go for this particular experiment, and Jow was hopeful that we would maybe take a trip to New Hope but the more I thought about it, the more I wanted to work on Spare Oom as it's really been more a disaster/storage space since the holidaze.  I had ordered all the craft supplies I would need for the coming season which sounds awesome until you realize it all has to live somewhere which will require a lot of Jenga'ing because you don't live in a chateau, you live in a Parisian sized pied-a-terre (with no first bigger house but whatev I'm American).

Acquiring things for Spare Oom has been fun as it means I can pretend to be fancy and French (my Amazon wish list is now full of French aspirational books.  I think I have a better chance pretending to be French than I do Mormon) and I've been selecting things slowly and carefully with Jow.   A black lace shrug to go over my black chiffon dress that I'll use for rituals only.  Candle holders.  Element jars.  Buying the table and shelves.  

But now the time for acquiring has passed and it's time for the less fun part, organizing everything.  We put up our Sarah Lawless print a bit ago and framing it was challenging but I got it done.  We need an extension cord so chandelier with its soft pink bulb can be the main source of lighting.  We hung up the collage I made of my family pictures in the hall and then proceeded to unpack all of my supplies and parceled them out (14 parcels of roving waiting to become skeins, eight pounds of beeswax waiting to become candles, and so on) and put them away.

We still need to set up our altar and shelving and finish setting things up but we should be ready to do our first ritual within a week or two.  We've also been doing a good job with keeping up with keeping the house neat which is super important since we're both working so much.  It's nice coming home to our hearth.

Feeling warm and cozy in our home as well as keeping up with our magical duties has become v. important to me in my own cosmogram.  Which . . .as today is my birthday it's still startling feeling more Mother than Maiden as I spent a lot more time as Maiden than Mother.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Banana Oat Almond Butter Smoothie

There's nothing like eating half a baby cow/veal, two pounds of mozzarella (half fried naturally), a pound of pasta, half a pound of spumoni ice cream and a gallon of aperitif in celebration of one's birthday to make one want to eat salad and smoothies for a day and a half after in an attempt to digest all of that mess.

My actual birthday is tomorrow, but I was *supposed* to be eating fried mac and cheese at a rockabilly roadhouse with all my besties but it snowed and I didn't want heavy food and heavy guilt in me due to someone getting into a car accident so instead, Jow and my bff April and I went to a v. local Italian place where I consoled myself in the way of my people. What kills me is what I ate used to just be like a Friday night for me (hence why I'm fat now) but now the next day (. . .and the day after) was just a total food hang over.  Penance smoothies and salads were our only hope for digestion.  So I bring you. . .

Banana Oat Almond Butter Smoothie


1/2 cup quick oatmeal
1 cup plain low-fat yogurt
2 banana, cut into thirds
1 cup fat-free milk
4 teaspoons honey
2 tablespoons almond butter
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 packet protein powder (we used hemp protein powder)
1 teaspoon flax seeds
4 ice cubes

Put everything in a blender and blend until smooth.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

White Scarves and Frozen Toes

It's seriously January in New Jersey and there's me, showing
common sense is for suckers.
As many of you know, one of my patron deities is Yemaya.  Ten years ago I was a v. young twentysomething with stars in my eyes and fanaticism in my blood.  I don't know how it came up at the time, but somehow I managed to talk my ADF Grove into giving the traditional New Year's Day ritual to Yemaya a go.  Naturally we don't do it on New Year's Day proper as I would have been far too hung over to drive an hour down to the beach.

Somehow, despite the complete lack of appropriately similar climate and the fact that Yemaya is neither Indo nor European (as are the traditional ADF deities - all our main eight holidays are I-E), this ritual has managed to stick for our grove for ten years this year.  Sometimes it's a lot of people joining us, sometimes it's just a few.  Sometimes when the weather is good, it's a longer rit.  Sometimes when there's say snow on the beach it's more of what we have called "chuck and run" style ritual.  Every year though, even though the weather is no where near the Caribbean, our usually gray/green Atlantic manages to be a soft blue with a lacy pink and blue sky to match.

It's become so second nature to me at this point that it's hard for me to realize how much ritual goes into the ritual.  I always try to wear as much as white and blue as possible, usually a sweater and underthings as well as a scarf.  I always wear Uggs.  I always wear my BPAL Yemaya oil.  I always wear peals or some sort of seashell or other sealife jewelry.  I try to remember to bring an extra pair of socks and a towel.  I always go shopping for some of her favorite things - melons, flowers, soaps, french pastries, rum.

We always start at E. and N.'s house where we cut open the melons to act as boat vessels for our wishes for the new year.  We decorate them with flowers and candles and other sweet things and write our wishes on joss paper and tuck them into the boats while I tell some of Her stories.  We drive down to Point Pleasant, stopping on the way at a Dunkin Donuts for hot chocolates and coffees and donuts.  When we get to Point Pleasant, I always get excited when I smell the beach.  We tromp out with our boats and I make the invocation, spilling rum (this year Black Heart) out for Her as I speak.  I take off my socks and shoes and roll up my pants, partly because it's a traditional thing to do and partly just because I know I'll wind up in the ocean because if you're really invested in seeing your wishes come true, it's good luck for your boat to go out with the first wave which means you need to wade in to make that happen.  We hang out on the beach, floating our melon boats out to sea and watch to see what She does with them.  Depending on how cold it is, I may dip in and out of the ocean a few times during this time.  It's always v. v. v. cold as it's January but some years are far colder than others.  Then we feed the seagulls and I put on new socks and shoes back on and try to get feeling back into my feet. We may play some Skeeball because even God likes that now and again to relax.

We've had some interesting omens through the years, but the most telling one was after Katerina when a family from New Orleans was staying with family in New Jersey and knew exactly what we were doing and asked for boats.

It's not a Jersey rite though unless it concludes at a round table at The Atlantis Diner where I always get  a Taylor Ham sandwich on a hard roll with fries and gravy on the side in deference to the Lady as She favors pork.  We talk about Pagany things over a late lunch and then make the trek back home.

Every year, like clockwork.

Omio Yemaya!

Was I My Best?

So as you all know, I've been struggling to attend a BarreAmped dance class as I bought it through Groupon but after much wailing and gnashing of teeth, I've figured out that it's causing me more harm than good.  The times for the classes are difficult for me to make and it's a couple towns over making it more complicated.  Because I've been so focused on trying to get my ass there, I haven't been going to the gym which is all of two minutes from my house and open 24/7.  With the new hours I'm working, I'm worried that this class may cause me more harm than good as I need to be v. careful with my spoons because if I overdo and flare up and need to take off of work, so do the women I work for.

Part of making goals (imo) is also figuring out which goals aren't so possible and recalibrating accordingly.  So the new plan is to (hopefully*) go to the gym on Sat and Monday which will be my gym schedule in general as I feel that's something I can do indefinitely and it's a better spoon balance.  I got some yoga classes and the times are a much better fit for my current schedule and it's a little closer to me.

So there is my full disclosure for the Experiment :)

* It's my first year nannying so it's germ farm a-go-go, whenever one of the kids is sick so am I.  Baby #2 is sick right now and I'm feeling a little blech but I'm hoping to 'Quil it away.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

[New Year, New Year] The Year of the Hustle: Let's Make Our Own Luck

This is my personal update in general and in response to the Enchanting prompt.
For my response to Enchanting, I made sure to feed everything that needs to be fed (dessert roses, lodestones, high John, honey jar, mojo bags, etc) which I suck at as I have a the-world-is-my-tank-of-seamonkeys view point.  I did some divination and asked my husbands (Jow and Gordon) what they thought and basically they reinforced what I suspected - my wheel is spinning too fast and there are too many variables to get a good bead on what's going to happen because it's changing too quickly.  But.  When I get overwhelmed, my natural inclination is to drop to the ground limp toddler style like Lilo does in Lilo and Stitch and just ignore everything and freak out.  Which . . .I no longer have the luxury to do.  So if I can keep focused and not give in to these inclinations, I can get a lot of shit done.  I also did another ritual that I will be blogging about tomorrow.

Right now, I am so tired I feel like I'm almost in a trance state.  Gearing up for the Year of the Hustle (you can thank Jow for that) and dipping my toes in is v. different than now being thrown into the deep end head first which is where I am now.   Monday I had a total meltdown as I was convinced of my complete inability to get this shit done on top of working way more hours than I have in my day job in years as well as the added bonus of now needing to wake up at 6:15a two days a week.   At the same time, having less time to fuck around with has made me much more focused.

Things I have been doing for my goals this week:
* Tracking my calories
* Made a dr. appt for Monday for fibro med check
* Cleaned/cleaned the house
* Kept up with everyone's NY NY entries
* Put out a query for an editor for the eCourse (and got three proposals from copyeditors already!)
* Reviewed and updated my credit card bills.  I am now 2/3 paid off which is really good.  My goal is to be completely paid off by the end of this year and to start savings.
* Left a message at the church re: the chapel for our wedding and got my stag/hen party date set.
* Kept up with writing the prompts
* Received all my crafting supplies for stock for the coming year/booked my first show (second will be booked later today)
* I will book my first dance class a little later today

Housekeeping Notes

1. Previously I had a button for donations to go towards furthering my own Occult/Pagan education but that money will now be allocated for the costs associated with running this website and the impending free eCourse.  If you've been getting something out of New Year, New You: An Experiment in Radical Magical Transformation, my website in general and/or are planning to take the free eCourse, consider donating a dollar or two.

2. I've been in such a daze from being sick since Christmas and starting additional hours with my day job that I haven't realized that I hadn't been using the moon phases, deity suggestions, etc for the prompts for the last couple weeks.  I apologize, I will endevour to remember them for future weeks during NYNY. 

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

[New Year, New You] Weekly Writing Prompt: Maps (Wait, They Don't Love You Like I Love You)

The New Year, New You Project is an experiment in Magical Radical Transformation.  Please see here for how to participate! 

Please remember to leave a link here to your blog entry with your response to this prompt or an update on your own Experiment.

As usual, without even discussing it, my PEH and I are on the same page.

This week's prompt is for you to go some place that is sacred to you and to use the experience to guide you in your work for 2012.  Look for signs and omens everywhere, write down your dream from the night before and if your drunken whore of a Muse (. . .or, you know, your own personal spirits) give you direct input as to where to go and/or how to spend your time there, do what they tell you to do (. . .within reason, don't get stupid on me now, Charmers) and see where it takes you.

The point of this prompt is more about being open to an experience and relaxing your mind and seeing what kind of revelations you come to.  We don't all have access to standing stones, it's about going to a place that's important to you in your own personal cosmogram - it could be a town, a bar, a church, someone's house, a restaurant, whatever.  You know your own map.  And it doesn't matter if your dreams are filled with your boss telling you to buy tomatoes and vodka on the expense account and demanding you mask it so that Accounting doesn't bother zir (. . .not from personal dream experience or anything) or if all you hear on the radio is Sexy and I Know It ninety billion times on repeat and that the only wild life you see is someone's Labrador and Red Mini Coopers suddenly seem important, write it all down.  Don't try to interpret it until you're writing your blog entry.  Let it marinade by your bedside until you write your blog entry.

Go find adventure.

Monday, January 16, 2012

[Recipe Monday] Cassoulet

So.  If you're looking for a reason to cry and feel bitter about your life, read this article and look at the blogs.  I am without irony whining drunkenly right now about how badly I want to be a young hip not-Utah Mormon mom.

But.  While waiting to become perfect, you still need to eat.  So.  Cassoulet.

4 pieces of bacon, diced large
1 onion, diced
1 carrot, diced
1 parsnip, diced
1 carton baby bella mushrooms
1 can cannelloni beans, rinsed and drained
1 can chick peas, rinsed and drained
Large can of diced tomatoes, undrained
1 chicken bouillon cube
1 cup water
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
bouquet garni (I use a t-sac because I'm lazy and have them on hand) with fresh thyme, rosemary, parsley and a dried bay leaf)
Salt and pepper to taste
Seasoned panko breadcrumbs and grated cheese

Put the bacon in a large pot on medium heat on the stove.   Drain some of the grease of of the pot.  Add onions.  Then add the mushrooms and then the garlic.  When everything is browned, add the white wine and scrape the bottom of the pot.  Add the rest of the ingredients except the breadcrumbs/cheese.  Simmer uncovered on low heat for at least an hour.   Scoop into bowls and top with breadcrumbs and grated cheese.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

[New Year, New You] Some Enchanted Evening

Back to work, bus slave.

The New Year, New You Project is an experiment in Magical Radical Transformation.  Please see here for how to participate! 

Please remember to leave a link here to your blog entry with your response to this prompt or an update on your own Experiment.

So, when we broke down your goals, part of the question was what are you going to do magically to make sure that your goals happened.  This is the week to really focus on that.  If you have a ritual you've been wanting to do to shore things up, do it.  If you need to check in with your spirits on where you're heading, get going.  If you've hit a road block, break out your runes or tarot deck or whatever you use.  If you've been meaning to meditate, go with Gaia.

If you need to cut ties with something or someone in your life, get to it.  If you need to sweeten someone or something (bringing a new relationship into your life, a new job, etc), get to work.  Mojo kind of weak lately?  There's an app for that.

You've been grinding for five weeks, your resolve may be wavering but you don't have time for that.   You've been working too hard to just give up now.  You are a weaver of wonder, a dreamer of magic and in your tiny hands you possess the power to influence the universe in great and small ways.  But if you can't change your own life, how are you supposed to change the universe?  It all starts with your resolve to use  your magic.  It's your edge, your advantage in this world.  Use it.

You can do this.

[New Year New You] My Response to Relax Don't Do It

I'm so smug and rested!
The New Year, New You Project is an experiment in Magical Radical Transformation.  Please see here for how to participate! 

Please remember to leave a link here to your blog entry with your response to this prompt or an update on your own Experiment.

Oh Charmers.  I have had the worst stomach bug since yesterday.  Seriously, give me the flu over this any day of the week.  I can deal with fibro, anemia, anxiety/depression, my uterus turning itself inside out . . .but this?  I seriously wanted to die.

In the interest of full disclosure, since my intestines were in revolt yesterday (and today), I didn't make it to my dance class yet.  But I will when I feel fully human again.

So this particular exercise was hard for me to do because I'm used to being a worker bee.  When someone is like, let me treat you to something nice, my answer is to flail a whole lot.  Jow is similarly challenged in treating himself.

Because I'm always a party, on the day we agreed to do something nice for ourselves, I started getting v. anxious and "tail chew-y" about settling on something to do, likely because every plan I've made in the past two months have resulted in some kind of illness or other clusterfuck.

But Jow and I settled on going to Princeton.  I realized part of why I was reluctant is that a lot of my past centered around there but it was time for me to take the town back.  Jow always gets omg excited about University towns, he can smell the book learnin' happening as soon as we get there.  It was nice having the time driving in the car down country roads to really catch up with each other.

We found a little boutique called Aphrodite with planetary sigils in their sign so we had a nice chat with the owners and then tried to go to a favorite restaurant of mine but the power was out so they gave us a gift card so I'll go back there for a birthday dinner.  We went to another restaurant instead and did a sake flight and had really good dry rubbed ribs, tuna sashimi, crab wontons and soup with a tiny sweet for dessert.  We made a nice simple dinner in for ourselves and then drank some St. Germain and enjoyed spending time together.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

[New Year New You] My Response to Something I've Been Putting Off

Yeah it looks just like this.  Especially the heels.

The New Year, New You Project is an experiment in Magical Radical Transformation.  Please see here for how to participate! 

Please remember to leave a link here to your blog entry with your response to this prompt or an update on your own Experiment.

Right.  So I could pretend that I'm putting off business related things but that's bullshit because much like Timmy Ferris I enjoy working on business things most of the time so going by that I could claim to have a 4 hour work week too.  Going to work?  Hooray!  Even when the baby of the day won't stop screaming and/or shits so far up her back it almost reaches her neck.  I like working, it makes me feel productive.  Finding craft shows?  Also productive feeling.  Ordering craft supplies?  Super awesome, it's shopping *and* business.  Doing craft shows?  Occasionally annoyed by annoying customers but overall a productive feeling.

(Slightly related to the business thing, if anyone is looking for a dozen new and unused 16 oz jars with lids, I have them listed on my Etsy.  My quest for the right sized jars for a project continues!)

But that is a bold face lie, Charmers.  Inevitably, what I put off gets put into three categories:

1. Body related things

2. Cleaning

3. Writing

Writing has not so much been a problem with the whole Experiment although admittedly I do sometimes feel like I'm shoveling snow while it's still snowing in my quest to read everyone's entries and comment but it's also made me streamline my intertube habits.  But I've been writing all the prompts I'm supposed to be writing and responding to my prompts as well as getting more articles queued up for WitchVox (which generates more email to respond to because I can't get enough of your love, baby).  I've also been following up on some fiction stuff (selecting cover art for a short eBook, lining up readings, etc).

Cleaning inevitably gets done because we live in a small space and it starts to get me irritated if things slide for too long.  I did talk to Jow about strategy for when I start working more hours shortly.  We sorted out how things would be distributed/if we need to consider a cleaning service.  I'm putting it off as we speak right now but I will be watching Hoarders and eating lunch after this which always kicks my ass into gear.

Which brings us to . . .body related things.  A friend of mine had written on Facebook that since losing some weight, family, family and even strangers have felt like they have the right to comment on her body and how uncomfortable that makes her.  I had been feeling that way for several years which has really stopped me from losing weight because it makes me feel like I lose agency over my body.  As a feminist, you can imagine how distressing that is.  (Side note: I think being pregnant would *really* freak me out hardcore because being preggo just makes that issue like a bazillion times worse)  Honestly, just talking to someone else who has the same issue really made me feel better.  Before I talked to her, no one else I know seemed bothered by it which made me feel like an isolated weirdo which made me feel like I would prefer to be a bigger chick who was left the fuck alone.

But I really want to be at a size that makes me feel happier with my body.  I will never be smaller than a size 12 and I'm okay with that.  My bone structure and my boobs will never conform to that.  I'm somewhere between a size 14 and 16 and I would like to be closer to a 12.  Numbers are arbitrary, but I have pictures of myself at a 12/14 and I like the way I look there a lot more.  So that means I would ideally like to lose between 30 and 40 pounds.  It took me a long time to gain that weight, it's going to take a long time to lose it and maintain it.  While, yes, I would prefer a quick fix, I would really rather prefer to maintain a weight rather than treadmill for five hours a day for three months and then just gain it back.  I don't want to be ruled by a "system" and I don't want to be ruled by a scale but I also don't want to be ruled by my eating issues either.  I also want to get to a point where I can go to a party or an event and eat what I want and then go back to eating more sensibly and healthy without it being a whole traumatic event (I tend to either be on the bus or off the bus with this stuff).

I think part of the issue is that without a set diet, I didn't know up until five minutes ago how much weight I can expect to lose which also made it hard for me to feel motivated because otherwise it feels so arbitrary.   Going by the calculator that Fitness magazine has (and continually adjusting my weight as I would theoretically be losing it) with the amount of calories I feel comfortable with (1500ish) and my activity level (light, gym twice a week), it's not impossible for me to be at my goal weight by August.  I also figured out how many calories I should be taking in to maintain that weight (1800ish) with the same activity level.

I've been finding SparkPeople very helpful in tracking my calories and whatnot, more so I can track my patterns and to help me have an idea of when I'm overdoing it.

So, here's the part that's hard for me to share because saying it makes it real.

1. I will be going to my first BarreAmped class tomorrow which I'm terrified about.  I used to love modern dance in college but I was a lot more in shape and lighter then.  I'm worried that this is going to totally trigger my fibro and/or I will be humiliated by not being able to keep up.  I've already ditched out of going once but it's a Groupon so I'm running out of time to fuck around about it.  And now I also don't want to look hypercritical in front of all of you so now I have to.  My palms are sweating right now just thinking about it.

2. When I am out of those classes, I will start my five yoga classes and hopefully be able to do at least one hot yoga class because I really have wanted to try it for years.

3. In between all that, I will be going to the gym another time sometime in the week.  When I run out of classes, twice a week (possibly Saturdays and Mondays seem the easiest to manage and maintain for all fitness).

4. To try to get myself into my own body again, I booked a boudoir shoot to happen over the summer.  I hate having my picture taken, I always look awkward and weird and I'd like to get more comfortable with myself and work my way up to feeling comfortable with doing a boudoir shoot.

So . . . here I am.

WitchVox Article: How May I Service You Today?

My WitchVox article "How May I Service You Today?" is up:

I think service can be a difficult concept to our community because there are obvious services that many of us do not do... helping at a soup kitchen or a domestic violence helpline, volunteering in Haiti, etc. We all feel we should be doing these things but most of us don't. And because we keep holding ourselves to standards we may not ever be able to reach (yeah, ask me how becoming a Girl Scout Leader is going) because of our busy lives, we hamstring ourselves from having the opportunity to give small services. If you do big services like I listed above, you are truly an angel. But many of us get too bogged down in our daily lives and it can be challenging to get involved in a larger more global cause. To that I say two things:

1. Think globally; act locally.

2. What do you care about?

Read the rest here.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

[Retro Recipe Not Monday] Baked Alaska

Your husband needs this on a Tuesday night
regardless of your personal sexual orientation.
I was super surprised to find out that there are still modern Betty Drapers crazified enough to attempt this dessert.  I've never had it, have any of you?  Is it at all worth the sheer amount of effort that goes into it?  My guess is no but I could be mistaken.

Baked Alaska (Food Network Recipe)


For the Ice Cream Cake:

For the Meringue:


Make the ice cream cake: Brush a 3-quart metal bowl with vegetable oil; line with plastic wrap. Fill the bowl with scoops of the sorbet, vanilla ice cream and half of the chocolate ice cream, alternating small and large scoops to create a mosaic of colors and shapes. Place a piece of plastic wrap on top of the ice cream; press down to close the gaps between scoops and even out the surface. Remove the plastic wrap, sprinkle the ice cream with the wafer crumbs and re-cover with the plastic wrap, pressing gently. Freeze until set, about 30 minutes.
Remove the wrap and spread the remaining chocolate ice cream in an even layer on top of the crumbs. Cut the pound cake into 1/2-inch-thick slices; completely cover the ice cream with the slices, trimming as needed (you'll use about two-thirds of the cake). Cover with fresh plastic wrap and freeze until firm, at least 2 hours or up to 2 days.
Make the meringue: Whip the egg whites and cream of tartar in a large bowl with a mixer on medium-high speed until foamy, about 2 minutes. Gradually beat in the sugar on high speed until the whites are glossy and hold stiff peaks.
Remove the top layer of plastic wrap, then invert the cake onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. (If necessary, let the cake stand overturned until it slips out.) Remove the rest of the plastic wrap and cover the ice cream completely with the meringue, making the dome-shaped top slightly thicker than the sides. Form swirly peaks in the meringue using the back of a spoon. Freeze for at least 3 more hours.
Preheat the oven to 500 degrees. Bake the cake until the meringue peaks are golden, about 4 minutes, or brown the meringue with a blowtorch. Let the cake soften at room temperature for 5 to 10 minutes before slicing. Freeze any leftovers.

[New Year New You] Into the New Year, Into the Breech

The list of Charmers participating in the Experiment has been updated!  We're up to 49 participants, who wants to be lucky 50?  It's not too late to join, see here as to how.

And remember!  It's not just until Valentine's Day anymore, it's going to be extended for an additional 14 weeks for a free eCourse.  While it is slowly killing me to keep up, every person who leaves their link to their newest entry gets an entry into the contest and the delight of knowing that I read each and every one of your entries and comment as appropriately as it's going to get from me.

Monday, January 2, 2012

[New Year, New You] Writing Prompt: Relax, Don't Do It

In the continuing adventures of the non-consentual D/s relationship
I have with my Muse, she requested this picture as it is an
"old school" pin up.  

The New Year, New You Project is an experiment in Magical Radical Transformation.  Please see here for how to participate! 

Please remember to leave a link here to your blog entry with your response to this prompt or an update on your own Experiment.

Deities: Dolphin, Bastet, Dionysus, Freyja, Lila

Moon Phase: Waxing Gibbous Moon - As we're moving from Waning to Waxing, start concentrating on using this phase as a slow working up to your potential power.
Days of the Week: Sunday, Monday, Friday

Inspirational Song for Your Brainmeats: Dirty Laundry, Bitter:Suite (I'm just a bad girl/ that's why we get along/ won't make excuses for anything I'm doing wrong/ What's the point in playing it safe?/ Wouldn't you rather misbehave?)

My entry on what I've been putting off will be, well, put off a little.  Jow has been v. sick with some kind vicious stomach bug so I've been tending to him.  He's just starting to get back to his cheerful self now but he was pretty miserable.  Ironically, given the name of this challenge, my New Year's didn't really go according to plan and neither did my New Year's Day but in a weird way while I don't like for Jow to be sick, I'm kind of glad I didn't get too caught up in the day itself because I find it has a way of derailing progress for the rest of the year.

Which is why if you have been doing what the prompts have been prompting you to do, I hope you can understand the reasoning behind this prompt.  Even if you're behind in the prompting, I suggest doing this prompt for this week very strongly.  I'll write you a permission slip, go out of order!  You already started pushing when it was the hardest to push and I've been reading all your diligent work.  But this week especially in my opinion is not a good week to be working on any kind of major progress in your goals.  I say this because this week especially stinks of the first world "quick fix/quick resolution" egregore where people make their goals with the best of intentions and then half heartedly work on them during this week and then fuck them up and then they give up.  You don't want to get your serious work that you already started messed up in that energy.  This program has seven more weeks to go and then will pick up fourteen more weeks right after in the mini eCourse.  You have plenty of time to get the things you want to do done, I promise.  I'm going to be pushing you like whoa again starting next week.

Your mission for this week is a simple one but for many may be the hardest.  I want you to do something nice for yourself.  It doesn't have to be anything really expensive or even super time consuming.  I want you to give yourself permission to enjoy the fruits of your labor and to give yourself something nice.  You know what you like, what's something you usually deny yourself because it's frivolous?  Do that and do it with your full heart - no guilt, no "oh but I should be", just something you enjoy, a gift from you to you for being willing to change your life.

Some suggestions:

* A salted caramel hot cocoa from Starbucks at a bookstore where you look at French Vogue and pretend you're part of GossipGirl

* A bottle of Prosecco, bread, fruit, cheese and dried meats and your favorite book.

* An hour playing a video game you never have time for

* Going to a yoga class and then feel smug about the sundae you eat afterwards.

* Buying yourself a small luxury item just because (flowers, cashmere socks, a favorite magazine, a new lipstick).

* A car ride in the countryside with your favorite music playing

* A long bath

* A massage

* A pedicure (it's good for boys too, I assure you)

* A mini marathon of your favorite trashy telly show with your favorite indulgence (smoking, drinking, junk food, etc.)

Go forth!

Sunday, January 1, 2012


Thank you for joining the New Year, New You: An Experiment in Radical Magical Transformation eCourse!  By joining this course, you are agreeing that all of my material given in the course is my intellectual property and is not to be shared on the internet without my permission.

Please do not publicly blog or write about specifics in this course without my permission.  However, please feel free to join the Google group to discuss specifics and ask questions!