Monday, 18 September 2017

Madron/Autumn Equinox Celebration Ideas

It's Madron aka Mabon/the Autumn Equinox this Friday. Last October I started a post series of sabbat celebration ideas (I started with Samhain/Hallowe'en celebration ideas). So now, almost a year later I'm going to do one for Madron. :)

Note: if you're in the Southern Hemisphere then Oestara aka Ostara/the Spring Equinox is coming up. You can read some celebration ideas here:

Madron is the second harvest festival (the first is Lammas and the third is Samhain), so along with Lammas, it's linked with grain and abundance. You can think about what you've "harvested" in the last few months or since last year. It's also a time of balance. Since Litha/the Summer Solstice the days have been getting slightly shorter and the nights longer. (Since the beginning of September I've been noticing the difference, the sun sets just after 7 now). They are equal on the equinox day and then the days continue shortening until Yule/the Winter Solstice, after which they start getting gradually longer again and the light increases. Here's a post I wrote last year with some links to Madron info and suggestions for things to do at the Equinox:

And a couple more posts with more information:

Monday, 4 September 2017

End of Summer + Full Moon (Esbat) Biscuits

We've now come to the end of summer and are moving into autumn (in the Northern Hemisphere). Summer is my favourite season so I've tried to enjoy it this year. (I have anxiety and that often gets in the way of things). I enjoyed some summer drinks this year, including iced coffee and Costa Coffee's new Mint Choc Chip Frostino.

We had some lovely weather at the beginning of the summer here in the UK, then quite a lot of rain. But it got hotter again recently. These last few days it's been feeling more like autumn though! We've had Lammas and the next sabbat will be Madron, which I'm thinking of baking Bara brith for.

Last year I had car problems so didn't get to the beach much, but this year I've been several times. I thought I'd share some pictures I took at Shoreham and Worthing beaches recently. :)

Sunset on Shoreham Beach.

Monday, 14 August 2017

More Summer Drinks + Summer Tag!

Back in 2013 I did a post on summer drinks. That was 4 years ago now, so I thought it was time for a follow-up post!

Now we're in August we're getting near the end of summer but there are still a few weeks to go! Summer is my favourite season so I want to enjoy it for as long as possible. After a dull, rainy couple of weeks here in South East England, it's been hotter and sunny these past couple of days and feels more like summer again, lol. So here are some drinks to enjoy during the rest of August (and into September)!

Iced coffee

I love iced coffee. I didn't used to drink it as much because I would get it from Starbucks and they're more expensive but then a few years ago McDonald's started doing iced coffees and they're over £1 cheaper, so now I have them more frequently. (A regular Starbucks frappuccino costs £3.40 in the UK, whereas a regular mocha frappe from McDonald's costs £2.19). Starbucks do mini frappuccinos for a cheaper price  but thy really are mini!

My favourite Starbucks frappuccino flavour is mocha and I also like mocha frappes from McDonald's. I also occasionally have a McD's caramel frappe. Check out the Starbucks and McDonald's ranges below:

Homemade Starbucks frappuccino

One of my favourite homemade coffee recipes is this DIY Starbucks frappuccino from Fantastical Sharing of Recipes:

I discovered the recipe a few years ago. It uses creamer and the first time I made it I used Sainsbury's coffee whitener, but you can also use milk or evaporated milk (I use Carnation). I find it's not quite like Starbucks (at least the way I make it) but it's the closest I can do at home! lol.

Vietnamese style iced coffee

Speaking of Carnation, back in June I made a Vietnamese style iced coffee  using a recipe from the Co-Op magazine. It's made with condensed milk (I use Carnation). I can't seem to find the recipe online but here are a couple of  similar ones:

It's basically made by just pouring hot coffee over condensed milk and ice, at least you can do that at home. In coffee shops they will make it with coffee machines and I expect it tastes different. Probably nicer than homemade. It would be good to try one in a Vietnamese cafe one day!

Anyway, it is nice. The condensed milk makes it quite rich and thick, so I don't think I could drink too much of it, but it's definitely good for a treat. :) I'm planning to make some again this week. Here's a picture from when I made it in June:

Monday, 7 August 2017

Lammas 2017

Last Tuesday was Lammas (1st August) and I celebrated by baking bread and gingerbread. As I mentioned in my Lammas Celebration Ideas post, I think I last baked bread 7 years ago! (Around Lammas time). I've made quick dinner bread since then and no-yeast dinner rolls. I've also made Cornish pasties some years. But this year I decided to have a go at bread again. I made it on Monday, the day before Lammas because it can take a while to rise and also I was planning to make gingerbread on Lammas itself.

It came out quite well. I used a recipe from Tesco magazine that I'd had saved for ages (I think maybe since last year). I'm pretty sure this is the recipe:

It uses dried yeast which I think might make it easier than active yeast. It didn't take that long to rise compared to some recipes, you leave it for about an hour to rise and then for another half an hour to prove.

The bread tasted nice. I had some after I  made it and then more the next day with my lunch. I don't like white bread in general, especially shop bought white I prefer brown aka wholemeal/wholewheat) but I find homemade bread a lot nicer. I remember having some at the Black Rabbit pub in Arundel once and I liked it.

I split my bread up into two because it wasn't big enough for the loaf tin. I put the second one into a round tin as well. Here's a picture of the first loaf:

Sunday, 30 July 2017

Lammas Celebration Ideas

Lammas is coming up this week (it's on Tuesday 1st August) so I thought I'd do a celebration ideas post to accompany my past ones on Hallowe'en/Samhain, Oestara and Beltane. and Litha. (Read them as well if you'd like some ideas for future celebrations, the closest is Samhain in October!). It's my favourite sabbat apart from Samhain aka Hallowe'en! :)

The main themes are harvest and the Sun God Lugh (pronounced "Loo"). At Lammas he's slain and will be resurrected at Yule  in the form of the new God (much like the Christian Jesus). Some people make a Corn King to represent Lugh.

Here are a few links with more info about Lammas aka Lughnasadh (also click on Lammas at the start of the post to read more about it):

Sunday, 9 July 2017

Baking- One Bowl Chocolate Cake and 7up Cake

I've been doing some more baking lately, so thought I would do another baking post. :) I recently made one bowl chocolate cake and 7up cake.

One Bowl Chocolate Cake

A couple of weeks ago I made a one bowl chocolate cake. (The reason for the name is that it's all mixed up in the same bowl). The recipe is from Six Sister's Stuff, here's the link:

Note: When I've visited this site recently I've been getting a warning message from my anti-virus saying that it's a security threat. However I emailed them and one of the sisters told me that they have had their site checked and it's not coming from there. I used Google Chrome to view the site like she suggested and nothing's happened. (My usual browser is Firefox). So it's probably best viewed in Chrome. :)

I've previously made one bowl black tea chocolate cake but that had a bit of a bitter taste with the tea. I did like it but this cake was nicer. Here's a picture:

Sunday, 25 June 2017

Litha 2017

Last Wednesday it was Litha aka Midsummer/the Summer Solstice (21st June this year). As I mentioned in my Litha celebration ideas post (it was also part of a baking post) I made lemonade. I normally make it for Litha; the type I usually make is what I call "Hello Kitty lemonade" because the recipe is from a Hello Kitty book! Last year I used a recipe from The Real Witches' Kitchen book by Kate West. I didn't like that much because it was quite bitter, so this year I went back to my favourite type! lol. It's also easier to make since you don't have to boil the lemon rind or anything, you just mix the lemon juice with the water and sugar.

I had the lemonade with a salmon sandwich and sea salt crisps for lunch and also made the same tomato and onion salad that I did last year. The recipe is from The Kitchen Witch book by Soraya. Here's a picture of the lemonade: