Sunday, 18 March 2018

Celebrating Oestara + Spring

At the beginning of the month I wrote a post on getting ready for spring. You can read that here:

Now it's almost officially here, Tuesday 20th March is the Spring Equinox, the first day of spring. It's also Oestara (or Ostara), so I thought I'd do a post on celebrating both Oestara and spring in general. :)

Note: If you're in the Southern Hempishere, Madron (or Mabon) and autumn are coming up for you. In that case you may like this post:

Ironically we're having wintry weather again, like when I wrote my post about getting ready for spring! We're having what they're calling the "Mini beast from the East" in the UK. It's around 0 degrees Celsius (32F) here in Sussex and is snowing as I write this. But hopefully spring isn't too far away!

Oestara Ideas

Last year I wrote a post on Oestara and Spring Equinox celebration ideas. Check it out here:

Monday, 5 March 2018

Getting Ready for Spring

Back in December I did a post on getting ready for winter. You can read that here:

Now that spring is coming (in the Northern Hemisphere, those in the Southern might like the winter post), it's time to do one on preparing for spring. Well, you could say spring is already here because like with winter (see linked post), there are two days considered to be the official start of spring- "meteorological spring" which is 1st March and "astronomical spring" which is on 20th March. The 2nd one is also the date of Oestara aka the Spring Equinox, which is always around this date. You can read more about it here:

My birthday is on actually 1st March and I like to think that it's in spring, but it's only really the very beginning of spring and technically the end of winter. I was born in Swaziland in Southern Africa though, and their seasons are different, so I was born towards the end of summer there!

Right now I'm ready for winter to be over, lol. I'm more of a summer/warm weather person and don't like the cold. However, since we don't get snow very often it is nice to get it for a change and we've just had a lot of snow in the UK. When I started this it was the coldest week in February in 5 years and it seemed ironic to be writing about spring! Some days it was around -2C (around 28F) and colder at night. Now it's warming up a bit with daytime temperatures around 7C. So it's starting to feel more like spring!

Monday, 19 February 2018

Red Velvet Brownies + Pancakes

I recently baked some red velvet brownies and also last week was Pancake Day and I made some pancakes, so I thought write about both in a post. :)

Red Velvet Brownies

I made these the weekend before last. The recipe is from the current issue of Co-op magazine. Here's the link to the online version:

They came out quite nice. I've baked red velvet cake a couple of times but it hasn't come out that well for some reason! (I plan to try again in future). These were nice though. The only thing is they weren't red, even though I actually put more food colouring than it said by accident! I think they're supposed to have a red tinge. Never mind, lol. Here's a pic:

Sunday, 4 February 2018

Imbolg 2018

It was Imbolg (aka Imbolc) on Friday (2nd February) and as I mentioned in my Imbolg Celebration Ideas post I made pancakes (English pancakes, also known as crepes). This year I used a recipe from BBC Good Food and they came out really nice. I was happier with them than last years! lol. Here's the recipe:

The only different thing to what I normally use was vegetable oil in the batter. (You can use sunflower or vegetable oil). They had a nice taste and texture, I ate them with lemon and sugar and had Ben Shaw's cloudy lemonade to drink. I'd like to make them again for Pancake Day on 13th Feb. Here's a picture:

Sunday, 28 January 2018

Imbolg Celebration Ideas

For Samhain 2016 I started a series of sabbat celebration posts I haven't done one for Imbolg yet though, so here it is. :)

Note: If you're in the Southern Hemisphere then Lammas is coming up for you. :) You might like this post on Lammas celebration ideas:

Imbolg or Imbolc, also known on Candlemas is on  Friday 2nd February this year. (Some people celebrate it on 1st Feb because it begins at sundown on the 1st and lasts until the end of the 2nd). Candlemas is now a Christian festival but I believe it has pagan roots. Imbolg is a fire festival, first spring festival and also the feast of Bride or Brigid (pronounced something like "Breed") the Irish Fire Goddess, who became Christianised as Saint Brigid. The Irish Gaelic word "Imbolc" or "Imbolg" is thought to translate as "in the belly" meaning the ewes who are pregnant at this time of year. There is another word "Oimelc" which is said to mean "ewe's milk".

Imbolg is the time when the land is waking and the first signs of spring start to appear. It's one of the "transitional" sabbats because while we're still in winter, spring is coming. Although it won't officially be spring until Oestara/the Spring Equinox around 21st March (I like to think that it's spring when it's my birthday at the beginning of March, but technically it's the tail end of winter!) things are shifting.

Monday, 15 January 2018

Winter Drinks

I've done a couple of posts on summer drinks in the past, so I thought it would be good to do one on winter drinks. :)

Summer is my favourite seasons and I love iced coffee (and drink it year round!) but hot drinks are good too. Winter will last for a couple of months or so yet and then the nights still tend to be chilly during spring, so these drinks will also be nice for early spring. (I do still like them in summer if it's not too hot).

As I mentioned in my post on getting ready for winter, I'm not a big fan of this time of year, but I do always hope that we'll get some snow because we don't get it very often here in South East England. All we've had in my area so far was some light snow one morning that had melted by the afternoon. It has been warmer latelly but colder weather and Arctic winds are on their way! Weirdly I saw some daisies in the park last week and thought I saw some daffodils today! I don't think they will last though because it's  getting cold. Daffodils normally come out around my birthday at the beginning of March, so it's really quite early for them. Anyway, here are the drinks. :)


My favourite type of cocoa currently is Cadbury's Bournville cocoa (I'm also really into the bars as well!). It's dark chocolate, so more bitter than milk choc, but with milk and sugar it can still taste quite sweet. I get mixed up between cocoa and drinking chocolate sometimes, but I think the difference is that cocoa is a powder whereas hot chocolate is made from melted chocolate that's blended with milk etc. You can read more about the difference here:

It does get confusing though because Cadbury's drinking chocolate which I also like, is a powder as well. Maybe it varies depending on the country? Anyway, I'll do separate entries for them here. :)

If you fancy making your own cocoa, here's a recipe:

It's saved on my Pinterest Recipes To Make board and I haven't got round to making it yet, but it looks good. It's made with Nesquik.

Hot chocolate

As I mention above, Cadbury's is my fave hot chocolate. I also really like Hans Sloane drinking chocolate which I discovered the other year. That is different to cocoa because it's chocolate beads that melt when you mix them with hot milk.

Starbucks do hot chocolates. I haven't tried one but it's going on my list of things to try! Here's their menu:

And so does McDonalds. I had one before Christmas as and although it wasn't as nice as others I've had, I did like it.You can find it on their McCafe menu:

If you'd prefer to make your own hot chocolate, here are a few recipes:

Sam Stern's recipe for hot chocolate I made in 2014:

Ellie from Nashville Wife's crockpot hot chocolate that I made a year ago (if you don't have a crockpot slow cooker like me, you can put the chocolate mix in a Pyrex dish on top of a saucepan or something similar):

French hot chocolate (haven't made this but it looks good, it's dark chocolate):

White hot chocolate

I first made this nearly 4 years ago bu it didn't come out that well for me. It was probably because I don't have a slow cooker, so just made it it the pan. If I did it again I'd probably use the method I did for the crockpot hot chocolate (see above). Here's a link to my post about it:

At the weekend I made some more white hot chocolate and it came out a lot better. It was simpler for me because you don't need a slow cooker and there's no whippng cream, so it's less ingredients (just milk, white chocolate chips and vanilla essence). Find the recipe here:

And here's a pic:

Tuesday, 2 January 2018

White Chocolate Christmas Cake + New Year Biscuits

I normally post on Sundays or Mondays but since this year those days were New Year's Eve and New Years Day, I'm posting today instead. :)

For Christmas I made a white chocolate Wonderland cake. The recipe is from British blogger and YouTuber Tanya Burr's book Tanya's Christmas. The recipe was featured in OK! magazine. I can't actually find the recipe online but here are a couple of other white chocolate cake ones:

The Wonderland cake has white chocolate in the sponge but not in the icing itself, that's just buttercream. I think the second recipe is a bit more similar to it than the first one. The recipe has white chocolate stars on top but I just grated some on top and added hundreds and thousands. It was quite nice, although I think it got better a couple of days later. I baked it on Christmas Eve and did the icing on Christmas Day. Here's a picture: