The meandering thoughts of a modern-day hearth witch.

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Hearth and Home // Healing

I have been feeling rather 'under the weather' lately, both physically and emotionally. I did not want to have to make a trip to the doctors, but yesterday I decided that enough was enough. I have been coughing for weeks,  and no amount of licorice, methol and eucalyptus, nor hot lemon and honey seemed to be working. 

So now I have a week's worth of penicillin to try and clear up the infection. I wish I didn't have to; I hate taking antibiotics, but I guess sometimes you just have to do what your body is demanding. And then I remember that, even though it is now mass-produced by pharmaceutical conglomerates, once upon a time it was just fungus. 

It makes me want to study herbalism: properly.

That takes care of the physical. Now to the emotional.

As do many, I find this time of year difficult. It seems to have gotten worse as I grew older, but I find the dark months so...well...'dark'. Tiredness and irritability seem to take over and it is a battle to find energy sometimes. I think having the additional residual anger and sadness from the loss of my Dad is making this year particularly testing. 

So what do I do? I have lots of warm, healing baths, with candles: blue for healing, white for light, pink for emotional well-being, purple for confidence. I have crystals which promote positivity around my bathroom and on my alter: amethyst to absorb negative energy and rose quartz for emotional balance. 

I try to eat 'wonderfoods' which pump me full of important vitamins and minerals such as magnesium (spinach, almonds), selenium (brazil nuts, seafood) Vitamin C (citrus fruits, green vegetables) and Vitamin D (seafood, oily fish.) This is the area I fall down on most often. I find it can be a vicious cycle: I don't want to cook if I'm feeling down; not eating properly makes me more down; I don't want to cook...

So for lunch, parsnip soup: warming and hearty, an excellent source of Vitamin C and a good source of magnesium. More on that next time...

It's good to be back!

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Less than 24 hours...

Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows: Part I

Far too excited.
May go into school tomorrow dressed as a witch.
I'll be back to 'normal' posts next week.

Monday, 8 November 2010

A Harry Potter Extravaganza

Over a month ago now, I mentioned here, about a Harry Potter themed murder mystery party I was preparing for my aunty's 50th birthday party. 

My aunty's kitchen was transformed into the Hogwarts Great Hall with candles and goblets. 
Albus Dumbledore headed up the table, with the Gryffindors at one end; the Slytherins at the other.

Neville Longbottom, Professor Trelawney, Hermione Granger and Professor McGonagall puzzle over the murder mystery clues. 

Professor Umbridge decides some order and discipline are needed!

Much fun was had by all, with the exception of Molly Weasley who, not only had to cook dinner for 15 people, but was also found to be guilty of 'murdering' Harry Potter. What larks!

The lovely Jo over at the delightfully creative Tanglefrost wanted to know the recipe for Butterbeer. There were a couple that we found, although sadly didn't get to try the traditional one. It sounds absolutely delicious though, so I may be making it for a cosy night in in the near future!

The first is a kiddie-friendly non-alcoholic version but oh-so-very sweet that only a teeny tiny amount will probably make your fillings hurt!

* For every 4 glasses of cream soda (or club soda) you will need 1/4 glass
 of butterscotch syrup and 1/2 tbsp butter.
* Heat butter and butterscotch syrup over a low heat (or in the microwave) until the butter is melted and the mixture is bubbling slightly.
* Stir the warm mixture into the cream or club soda.

A more traditional recipe for Tudor 'Buttererd Beere' can be found here and sounds absolutely delicious.
Maybe I will brew a batch before watching the new film next Friday...11 days to go!

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Operation Christmas Child

In the run up to Christmas - or Yule - most of us will be frantically preparing: organising feasts for our families, buying gifts and even going away on a winter holiday. 

Mum and I are making a trip to the Christmas Markets in Hamburg this year in the few days before the holiday and I am sure we will spend our time there buying presents to bring home, enjoying steaming mugs of hot-chocolate and 'gluhwein' and sampling local delicacies. I am so excited - I absolutely cannot wait!

For me, Christmas is a time of year to celebrate with family and loved ones. Whatever your religious beliefs or faith, I think that is important. It is so dark outside that we need to symbolically let the light back in - be that through a warm Yule fire, or candlelight; through the glittering baubles and tinsel on a Christmas tree; or, most importantly, through the love and laughter we share together.  

As we lead up to this special time of year, I am also mindful of those less fortunate who may not be able to spend it with family; may not be given any gifts and may be struggling through the most trying of circumstances. At school we are currently encouraging our kids to take part in the 'Operation Christmas Child' campaign, run by the Samaritan's Purse international relief charity. They make up a shoe-box of little gifts to be sent to a child somewhere in the world who would, otherwise, have nothing to open on Christmas Day.


There are 'drop-off' points all over the UK, as you can see here and they are open until Thursday 18th November. A fantastic way to encourage little ones to think of others less fortunate than themselves and have fun creating a gift for someone else.

Thursday, 4 November 2010

Winter Solstice Seasonal Swap

Beautiful, thoughtful Faerwillow over at To Fall or Stumble Upon has set up another exciting Seasonal Swap!

For those creative, artistic ones amongst us, what a wonderful way to share your handicrafts; for everyone else, a chance to reach out and greet another like-minded spirit. 

Queen of Owls

Nene Thomas - Queen of Owls

Look no further for an enchanting way to celebrate this most magickal of seasons with friends. Take a peek into Faerwillow's wintry wonderland here

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Thai Pumpkin and Prawn Curry

I love, love, love Thai food - and I particularly love a rich, creamy, coconutty, red Thai prawn curry.
This recipe brings a seasonal twist to my favourite aromatic indulgence: the inclusion of a pumpkin.

You could, of course, use squash in place of pumpkin. I had this giant beast for Halloween - and I was feeding five people, including B, who counts as two - so it was necessary. However, a humble butternut squash will suffice for most!

Thai prawn and pumpkin curry

Image courtesy of

You will need:

* 400ml tin of coconut milk
* 1-2 tbsp red Thai curry paste (there is an excellent recipe for making your own here, although I like to add a teeny tiny bit of tomato puree to mine as well)
* 350ml fish stock (a stock cube dissolved in hot water will do)
* 2 tbsp fish sauce
* 2 tbsp palm sugar (caster sugar will do)
* 1/2 tsp Tamarind paste
* 3 lemongrass stalks, outer layer removed and bruised with a knife
* 1 kg pumpkin or squash, peeled and chopped into chunks
* 500g raw king prawns
* 3 or 4 pak choi, washed and separated
* Juice and zest of 1 lime

What to do...

1. Heat a large saucepan or casserole dish over a medium heat and mix together the red thai paste and the thick cream, skimmed off the top of the coconut milk. Mix these together rapidly.

2. Still stirring, add the rest of the coconut milk, fish stock, fish sauce, palm sugar, lime and lemongrass.

3. Add the pumpkin and bring to the boil, then simmer over a low heat until the pumpkin has softened.

4. About five minutes before you are ready to serve the curry, add the prawns and the pak choi. When the prawns are all pink, they are ready. 

5. Serve as a bowl of warming, spicy soup; over fragrant jasmine or coconut rice, or with Thai ribbon noodles. 

6. Enjoy. 

7. Go back for seconds. Enjoy some more. 

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

A Journey across Exmoor

Last week, B and I took a journey into the wild, with some family and friends. 

Starting from The Exmoor Centre, a camping barn to the South East of Lynton, we walked along the river, deeper into the moor.

Along the way we adults got our feet well and truly wet, tentatively tip-toeing across stepping stones, while the kids (and dog) bounded and splashed ahead.

This was our goal...

...a tumble-down cottage lying nestled into the hillside, accessible only by striding across the remote moorland. No roads lead to this memory of a dwelling; it can only be reached on foot. 

Yet this cottage is one of the few reminders that people once carved out a life for themselves on the moor. B's ancestors resided in this very shelter: a shepherd, his wife and children, totally isolated and several miles walk across moorland from the nearest small settlement.

B and his family are working hard to try and preserve this piece of fascinating social history, before it is lost forever. Their endeavours can be followed at the charity's website, Friends of Hoar Oak Cottage

While wandering, I could not help but wonder what daily life would have been like out there, in the 1800s. Cold, hard, ruthless - that is undoubted. We take so much for granted today.

Less than 200 years ago, children would have piled onto the lone family horse and trotted 5 miles or more to  reach school every day; men would have worked tirelessly in harsh physical conditions to keep a roof over their families' heads; women would have scoured and searched the moorland for wild food to supplement what they grew and raised.

 I worry that for so many young people today, who find their food in neat, clean packages in a supermarket - or worse still, delivered to them in a polystyrene box - all sense of how their ancestors lived and worked is being lost.

If you would like to learn more about this beautiful, unspoilt landscape and how you can enjoy it, visit The Exmoor Centre website. Feel free to wander over and take a gander at the Friends of Hoar Oak Cottage blog on Tumblr. There you will find lots more photographs and information about their fascinating project.

Monday, 1 November 2010

18 days...

Until this.

Oh. My. Goodness.

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