Pull up a chair, get a cup of tea, and enjoy reading the recipes and tidbits of my journey through Life.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Some Un-Asked for Parenting Advice

This afternoon my daughter and I were drinking our after-school hot chocolate and watching Labyrinth.  Sarah was rocking Toby and my daughter asked where their parents were.  I told her they had gone on a date and she asked what that was.  My answer: When two people love each other they enjoy going places together, just the two of them.

This got me to thinking about the way we, as parents, explain things to our children.  Most of us probably grew up thinking of those "two people" as a man and woman, but that is not always the case.  They could be a man and woman, but just as likely is a man and man or woman and woman. 

We are responsible for how our children learn to see and think of things.  Eventually they will learn to think on their own and form their own opinions, but as they are starting out we are their caretakers.  This is how Hate is taught.  Hate is learned, it does not exist in a vacuum.  It does not take much additional effort to take a moment to think before we talk to our children.  Even if it did, they are more than worth the effort. 

We are raising the next generation of leaders.  How do we want that world to be?  Gandhi said "You must be the change you wish to see in the world."  Raising our children to be accepting and open-minded is a wonderful place to begin that change. 

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Literary Resurrection

"If you learn to love reading, you will never be alone." -- Ronald Reagan's Mother

I first heard the quote above while standing in an elevator while holding my current reading selection at the time, Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak.  It was told to me by Michael Deaver, President Reagan's former chief strategist and close friend, who was a Vice Chairman at the company I worked for.  Mike was always interested in seeing what book I was reading because in those days (before my daughter was born) I was a voracious reader.  I went through at least three books a week, thanks to an hour commute in the morning and then another in the evening.  Mike imparted a great deal of wisdom to me over the almost six years I worked at Edelman. 

The last time I saw him was on a return visit to the office for everyone to see my daughter and how much she had grown.  He had lost quite a bit of weight and I remember remarking to my husband about it.    A few months later I was flipping through the channels and saw a CNN Breaking News that Mike had passed away from pancreatic cancer.  Shock was an understatement. 

To make an already long enough story short, Mike left a strong impression on me about reading and making time for it... and about life in general.  I have been very remiss in keeping up with my book reading.  I read a great deal online, but there is just something about reading a book (or even an e-book) that cannot compare with online. 

This brings me to my new Halfway-Through-The-Year Resolution!  I am determined, by hook or by crook, to finish one book a month.  That might sound kind of wimpy, but I cannot remember the last book I was able to read from cover to cover.  I have started many, but something gets in the way and by the time I get back to it I would have to start all over again because it had been so long. 

Tomorrow is the first day of August and I will start reading The Plant Spirit Familiar by Christopher Pennczak.  This was recommended by my friend, David.  I also plan to give reviews of the books when I finish them.  Some will be reviewed on my pagan blog, The Enchanted Grotto, and the rest will be reviewed here. 

So, if you do not want to miss a review, subscribe to both blogs and you are all set! 

Sunday, July 21, 2013

A Women's Helper Tea

"They" always say that tea is healthy or "they" say herbs can cure you.  Well, today I am going to be "one of them", so be prepared!

I have always been interested in herbalism and practice it as much as I can.  I have also always had problems with menstruation.  I was put on birth control at the age of 14 to regulate myself.  Not the healthiest choice, but neither is the chance of ovarian cancer by the time I was 28.  I know now that there are herbs I could have used, but that was not mainstream in the 90's. (Oky, now I feel old!)

Well, when we decided to have our darling daughter, Shaadi, I had to go off the birth control.  What in Goddess's name was I going to do?  I seriously feared the pain and all that bleeding (10 days on average).  I did some research and found out that Red Raspberry Leaf is pretty much fabTABulous for all our womanly parts and Traditional Medicinals makes it in handy-dandy tea bags!  I went out that night and bought a box at Whole Foods and tried it!  Now, I cannot stand normal black tea without sugar, so I was surprised I could drink this no problem.  But should you need it a little sweet, remember ONLY use honey, not any type of sugar, because sugar changes the chemical composition of the tea-- meaning it stops working.

Now, it takes about a month of daily drinking the tea before you will be right-as-rain in the menstrual part.  I also swear it helped us conceive Shaadi because we got pregnant within 15 days!  And I never had a moments morning sickness.  Not saying that will happen to you, but I know it helped with morning sickness.

Once you know you like the taste, you can buy Red Raspberry Leaf in bulk from Mountain Rose Herbs and some heat sealable tea bags, or use an infuser teapot and it will be mucho cheaper.

Let me know how your own experiment with this tea goes, fabTABulous I hope!

Monday, July 1, 2013


I learned about Glamping not too long ago from a friend of mine, David Salisbury, which is "Glamourous Camping".  Since then I have been intriqued with the idea, which is odd for me since the thought of camping has never appealed to me.  But Glamping?  This is I can do, and the pre-planning will be a blast as well.  I love to craft and decorate anything, so glamping equipment will be my next big adventure.

The first item of glamping gear I bought was something I stumbled upon just boredly surfing some of my favorite online stores.  They are a set of four enameled tin cups.  As you can see in the photo below, the design is simple and elegant.  You can find these delightful cups at Victorian Trading Company's website, but you need to hurry because they are on clearance for $9.99. These cups have sparked my color scheme for our Glamp, black and white with touches of silver accents.  

Years ago I embroidered 36 quilt blocks to make what I thought would eventually be a quilt for our bed.  As inevitably happens with me, I changed my mind after having finished emboidering the blocks.  Now, instead of having one queen quilt made, I have enough for a full size quilt and a twin size quilt.  These will be used when we go glamping.  The picture below shows the quilt design, but in red while mine is done in black.

I have also started a Pinterest Board on Glamping if you would like to follow it.  I can be found easily on Pinterest, or you can find me here.

Anyone have experience with Glamping?  Any tips or tidbits you would like to share?

Saturday, June 29, 2013

The Enchanted Grotto: A Place for all Things Pagan

My dear readers, you may have noticed I have been getting more opinionated about Pagan issues and have posted a few times on here about it.  I have been having second thoughts about whether those posts really belong on the Homemaker Homestead.  They generally have nothing to do with cooking, self-sufficiency, or upcycling, so I have created another home for those posts, The Enchanted Grotto.

Please join me over there for lively discussions on any and every topic pertaining to Paganism and being a Pagan in the modern world.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Homemade Spaghetti Sauce

Earlier this week Foodlion was running a sale on tomatoes-on-the-vine, $0.89 per pound.  My immediate thought was "Spaghetti Sauce"!  My recipe calls for 20 pounds of tomatoes, which turned out to be $17.80.  That might sound like a lot, but for $20 I was able to make 10 jars of homemade spaghetti sauce that I know all the ingredients of; that is $2 a jar.  You cannot get really good pasta sauce for that price in the store.

My recipe was inspired by The Family Homestead's recipe, but I tweaked it to make it to my tastes.  The one ingredient that might be hard to find is the Pomegranate Vinegar.  I find it at my local Persian grocery, but I think Whole Foods has it and I know that Amazon does (brand does not matter).

Double, Double,
Toil and Trouble,
Fire Burn,
And Sauce to Bubble.

Spaghetti Sauce
20 pounds of tomatoes, cored
2 large (3 medium) red onions, chopped
4 medium green bell peppers, chopped
8 cloves garlic, minced OR 3 tablespoons
5 tablespoons salt
1 teaspoon fresh black pepper
6 tablespoons oregano
4 tablespoons basil
3 tablespoons rosemary
3 tablespoons thyme
3 tablespoons parsley flakes
1 tablespoon mint
1 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup pomegranate vinegar
1/2 cup white sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
3 12-ounce cans tomato paste

Wash and chop tomatoes in a food processor.  Put in a 14-quart stockpot.  Add the remaining ingredients, except for the tomato paste.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat and, simmer for 2 hours.  Add tomato paste and mix well.  Bring back to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for another hour.

Put hot sauce into hot, sterilized jars.  Process in a water bath canner for 20 minutes.  Remove the jars from the canner and place out of drafts on a towel.  Cover with another towel to keep warm.  Listen for each jar seal to "pop", letting you know the seal has formed.  In ideal conditions these sealed jars will now keep for years, but it tastes so good it probably will not last you that long!

If you happen to make my sauce, or any of my recipes, let me know how they turn out for you!  I love hearing about your experiences!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

A Little Background

Yesterday's post about my coming out as a Pagan was really the first post about ME as a person.  I usually post about events that occur in my life and leave it at that.  It just never dawned on me that people might want to know about the person behind the screen.  So, I will either entertain you or bore you with a little background on me.

I was born in the Bible Belt of Kentucky, but raised for most of my childhood on the Gulf Coast of Mississippi.  When Biloxi was devastated by Katrina, my heart bled for the place I consider my true hometown.  I am lucky I grew up there and not in Kentucky because I was exposed to any different cultures and people. 

My mom still likes to tell the story of when our neighbor's children came and asked if I wanted to play.  They were African-Americans and I had never seen them before and was a little hesitant to play. My early years spent in the country did not expose me to much diversity.  We ended up being great friends though and played together a lot.  But this just shows how backward I was.

From then on I grew up seeing all these different cultures getting along and it all just seemed normal to me.  I learned that differences didn't matter, we are all still people at the baseline.  Later in my childhood I got to meet some of my mother's friends who were gay and lesbians.  It was not until later that I learned they were because they were normal people.  I have never understood how who someone loves effects someone else...unless they are in love with that person as well, and then that is just a whole nother ball of wax.   But this made it easier for me to accept myself as bisexual at the age of 15, because I grew up knowing some wonderful LGBT people.

Also being away from the Bible Belt with its obligatory church attendance made it easier for me to form my own opinions.  The first five years of my life I was taken to church by my paternal grandparents whenever we stayed the weekend with them.  It was not the horrible experience that some have had, but it was not enjoyable either, especially for a young child on a Sunday morning.  I grew up not really thinking about religion or spirituality and it honestly never entered my head to think about it. 

When we moved back to KY in my 8th grade year, I was in for culture shock!  First, I felt claustrophobic because one whole side of the city was no longer the Gulf of Mexico.  Then all the "what church are you going to?" questions started.  Kinda scary.  Thankfully most people knew my brother (long story) so I wasn't a total outsider.  Anyway, I got to thinking about what I believed and even went to church a few times before realizing that wasn't what I believed.  I drifted for a while and just left things go in the religion department.  I was growing acedemically and personally, making friends, enjoying life as a new teenager. 

My currently spiritual path started in a WaldenBooks at the age of 15.  It was the summer before my junior year of high school and I felt great.  My friends and I were hanging out at the mall (what else do you do in a small town on a weekend?) and being the booklovers we were, we headed for WaldenBooks.  I found one or two  D&D novels I wanted and then stumbled upon a section titled Metaphysical.  Intriqued, I searched through the titles and read the back of a few.  I already knew about horoscopes and such, but Magick was new to me.  I bought True Magick by Amber K, which I still have to this day, and the rest as they say is history.

I have not looked back once and regret nothing I have done or learned.  To regret means I do not appreciate who I am today, and I absolutely love who I am.