Sunday, 24 December 2017

Yule 2017

It was Yule last Thursday (21st Dec). As I said in my Yule Celebrations Ideas post, I had a chocolate Yule log. It was from Sainsbury's this year and was nicer than it was the last time I had it. Last year's was from Asda. Here's a picture:

Sunday, 17 December 2017

Yule Celebration ideas

For Samhain last year I started a series of posts of sabbat celebration ideas. I thought I'd done one for Yule but it seems I haven't! Never mind, since Yule is coming up on Thursday (21st Dec) I'll do one this year. :) In 2016 I included some information about the origins of  Father Christmas in my Yule post. You can read that here:

Yule aka the Winter Solstice or Midwinter comes during the "dark time" of the year but it's also a turning point, because after the shortest day and longest night on Yule itself, the days gradually get longer and lighter again. (We won't see much of a difference for a few weeks though). Solstice literally means "Sun stands still". It's about the rebirth of light and is a fire festival. Its counterpoint is Litha aka the Summer Solstice or Midsummer and if you're in the Southern Hemisphere, your Litha is coming up. In that case you might like this post on Litha celebration ideas:

Sunday, 3 December 2017

Getting Ready for Winter

We're now moving out of autumn and into winter. Although winter doesn't "officially" begin until Yule/the Winter Solstice around 22nd December (it's the 21st this year) the seasons do run together and it's starting to feel more wintry. It's definitely gone colder, especially at night and some parts of the UK have had snow. (None in Sussex yet!). It was 9 degrees Celsius (48F) here today and at the end of the week and next weekend it's supposed to drop to 1 and 0 degrees at night. It gets a bit confusing though because 1st December is thought of as "meteorological winter" while around 21st Dec is called "astronomical winter". You can read more here:

Monday, 13 November 2017

Bonfire Night Parkin + Fireworks

The weekend before last was Bonfire Night (Sunday 5th November) and as I mentioned in my Hallowe'en/Samhain 2017 post I was planning to make parkin. It's a traditional Bonfire Night/Guy Fawkes Night recipe (it's more popular in the north of England) and I'd been intending to make it for several years! lol. I used a recipe that I normally pin on my Pinterest Seasonal board at this time of year. Here's the link:

It's a vegan recipe so doesn't have any eggs. (I'm not vegan but I thought this recipe was good, so used it). I only remembered the day before about making this on Bonfire Night itself and luckily I already had all the ingredients in, so didn't have to rush out and get any, lol. I used ordinary milk instead of soya, so my version is not actually vegan. Here's a pic:

Sunday, 5 November 2017

Hallowe'en/Samhain 2017

For Hallowe'en/Samhain last Tuesday (31st Oct) I celebrated by making some food and drink. I did my usual Demon's Blood drink and the potato salad I've made the past two years (the recipe is from The Kitchen Witch book by Soraya but I did it with chives and spring onion instead of rosemary). I also made a Mexican milk drink called horchata, the recipe is from my Llewellyn Sabbats Almanac book.

I had a pumpkin, some pumpkin candles, the pumpkin container/lantern with a tealight in from other years and knitted ghost decorations. There were also orange and green candles and I lit a white one for my girl cat who died in January. (A Samhain tradition you can do is light a candle for any relatives, friends or pets that have passed away in the past year). :) Here's a picture of the pumpkin:

This year's pumpkin.

Sunday, 29 October 2017

More Hallowe'en/Samhain Celebration Ideas

A year ago I started a series on posts on the sabbats. I started with Samhain which was fitting because it's one of my favourites (along with Lammas) and also it's considered the Witches' New Year. Other Samhain themes are ancestors returning since this is one of one of the two times of the year when the veil between the worlds is said to be thin (the other is Beltane), honouring your ancestors and those you've lost, and shadow work. It's also the 3rd and last harvest (after Lammas and Madron), so you can think about what you've harvested in the past year and/or season. Read last year's celebration post here:

Note: If you're in the Southern Hemisphere it's Beltane so you might enjoy this post on ideas for celebrating:

This year I'm posting about more Samhain celebration ideas. First of all here are a few links with information about Samhain and Hallowe'en (since they are closely linked): (Site now gone)

Sunday, 15 October 2017

Chocolate Fudge + Powerballs

Here are a couple of things I've made recently. :)

2 Ingredient Chocolate Fudge

Last weekend I made some 2 ingredient chocolate fudge for my belly dance group BD4U's hafla (dance party). (Well, I made it on Friday for the hafla on Sat). I've made it before and it wasn't that nice but this was better! It's very simple, just chocolate and condensed milk mixed together and done in the microwave, then put in the fridge to set. I used this recipe:

It uses chocolate chips but I realised I didn't have enough, so I also used some Tesco milk chocolate I already had in. It was nice. Here's a pic. I'd cut a piece out, so that's why there's a space! lol.

Monday, 25 September 2017

Madron 2017

Last Friday I celebrated Madron aka Mabon/the Autumn Equinox. (It was on 22nd September this year). As I mentioned in my Madron Celebration Ideas post I chose to make a ginger apple tealoaf. It's a recipe from Sam Stern's Student Cookbook. I was originally thinking of making Bara Brith but decided I'd prefer to make this. This is basically the same recipe, although it's not credited to Sam:

It was quite nice. I've baked gingerbread cakes for Madron before but they've come out too heavy with the treacle (molasses) in. The one I made in 2015 was better once you got used to it though  Last year I made a ginger beer cake and that was nicer. The tealoaf has dates and apple in but I think I should have cut the apple slices smaller. The lemon icing is made with lemon juice, a bit of rind and icing sugar and was really nice. Here's a picture of the tealoaf before it was iced:

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 they 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, 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): (Updated for 2021)

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:

Monday, 19 June 2017

Baking- No-Yeast Dinner Rolls and Brownies + Litha/Midsummer Celebration Ideas

The other week I made some no-yeast dinner rolls. Their full title is Momma's No Yeast Dinner rolls and I got them from Pinterest. Here's the link (the recipe is on the pin itself):

I've baked bread a couple of times before but it can be quite a complicated process! So I like no-yeast recipes because they're simpler. A few months ago I made quick dinner bread which came out quite nice. More recently I made flourless peanut butter bread. I wasn't so impressed with that; it does come out like "proper" bread but I didn't like the taste that much. I think I might have liked it more as a sweet bread. Still, it's good as an alternative bread if you're gluten intolerant because it's gluten free. :)

What I liked about these dinner rolls is the fact that they only have a few simple ingredients (flour, baking powder, milk, mayonnaise and a pinch of salt) and that they're easy to make. It doesn't say what kind of flour to use but it must have been plain because you also baking powder. The rolls tasted nice. Here's a pic:

Tuesday, 6 June 2017

Beach Pics

I normally post on Sunday or Monday but I didn't get round to it this time. I recently took some photos at Worthing beach though, so thought I'd do a random Tuesday post! :)

Worthing beach is one of my favourite beaches but I hadn't been for ages due to car issues and the weather during winter. It was lovely weather and it's really starting to feel like summer. (Well, it was but yesterday it rained hard for most of the day and today it's colder and windy! lol). Here are the pics:

Sunday, 7 May 2017

Beltane 2017

Last Monday I celebrated Beltane. As I mentioned in my Beltane Celebration Ideas post I made guacamole. The recipe is from Soraya's book The Kitchen Witch. I had it with a chicken drumstick, sea salt crisps and carrots. While other years I've had elderflower to drink, this year I had lemonade (Fever Tree Sicilian lemonade). Here are a couple of pictures:

Sunday, 30 April 2017

Beltane Celebration Ideas

Tomorrow (1st May) is Beltane, the 2nd spring festival and the start of the summer season. It can also be celebrated today (30th April). Interestingly I just watched an episode of The X-Files last night where the sabbats were mentioned, and Beltane was referred to as "Roodmas" and celebrated on 30th April. (Note: This episode doesn't cast witches/magic practitioners in a good light but there is one good witch!) Roodmas is apparently an old English word that means "Mass of the Cross" and it was celebrated as an attempt to diminish paganism! So maybe it's an alternative name. Witches of The Craft refers to it as the Christian term for Old Rood Day.

Note: If you're in the Southern Hemisphere you're about to have Samhain. Have a good one! )

Following on from my Oestara Celebration Ideas post, here is one for Beltane. :)

First of all here are some links with more info about this festival:

Monday, 17 April 2017

Frosted White Chocolate Easter Cake

For Easter this year I made a white chocolate Easter cake. I decided to make it on Good Friday because other relatives were also baking things and I knew I wouldn't be able to eat everything on Easter Sunday! lol. The recipe is a James Martin one. Here's the link:

I first made this for Easter a few years ago (I think in 2013) and although at first I wasn't that sure about it, I ended up liking it. So I thought I would be good to do the same cake again this year. It has white chocolate in the sponge and cream cheese frosting/icing with Mini Eggs on top. Here's a picture:

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Oestara 2017

I normally post on Sundays or Mondays but I had computer problems recently, so I'm posting today instead. :)

Last Monday was Oestara aka the Spring Equinox. I celebrated by making sugar cookie bars. As I mentioned in my Oestara/Spring Equinox Celebration Ideas post I first made them in 2015 and while I liked them, I think they could have come out better. This time I used a different recipe from Sally's Baking Addiction (I pinned to it my Recipes To Make board on Pinterest a while ago). Here's the link:

I did like them but I was a bit disappointed again. They seem to come out more like cake but maybe they are meant to be thicker. Never mind!

I'd originally intended to dye all the buttercream but I was in a bit of a rush that day because I had a belly dance workshop and I ended up forgetting to put the food colouring in! lol. So I used some plain buttercream and then put the colouring in when I got back. I used green and yellow for spring colours. I also put Cadbury Mini Eggs on top. Here's a picture from before I put the Mini Eggs on (I forgot about them too at first!):

Sunday, 19 March 2017

Oestara/Spring Equinox Celebration Ideas

Tomorrow is Oestara/Ostara aka the Spring Equinox. (Or you're in the Southern Hemisphere it's your Autumn Equinox. Happy Madron!). I thought it would be good to do a post with some ideas for celebrating :)

Here are some links to inspire you:*

I've done No 3 on Tess Whitehurst's list (Bless chocolate eggs). I used one of the mini chocolate eggs I got from Marks & Spencer recently. This time of year is great if you like chocolate because of all the Easter choc in the shops! I've been really into Cadbury solid chocolate mini eggs lately, lol.

I usually celebrate the sabbats by making some food and/or drink and this year I've decided to make sugar cookie bars for Oestara and put Mini Eggs on top. I first made them two years ago and they didn't come out so well. At the time I'd never made them before so had no idea how they were supposed to be. I think mine came out too thick but I still liked them. Now I have an idea what they should be like and also I'm using a different recipe. I'll do a post next week about it. :)

Sunday, 19 February 2017

Chocolate and Peanut Butter Energy Bites

I've been into energy bites again recently. In the past couple of weeks I've made 3 lots, lol. The ones I made are based on a recipe for Chocolate Protein Bites from Butler, Party of 4. Here's the link:

Mine were slightly different because I didn't use protein powder or seeds, I just used what I had in the house at the time. I didn't have a lot of peanut butter so I added Nutella as well. The chocolate chips I used were Tesco's milk chocolate ones. You microwave them and they're nice to eat warm, as Danielle says in her post!

The first time they came out quite nice. I made them again a couple of days later and used peanut butter this time, but they weren't so good. I think the problem was that I didn't have enough of the wet mixture, so I added more peanut butter and Nutella and put them back in the microwave quickly which ended up overdoing them a bit. They had a really funny taste! lol.  Last Thursday I made some more and they were much better. I think they taste better with more Nutella. The first two times I halved the recipe because I wasn't sure what they would come out like but the last time I made the full one. It makes about 14.

Here's a picture of the third lot:

Sunday, 5 February 2017

Imbolg 2017

For New Year I got the Llewellyn's Sabbats Almanac 2017 which has ideas for celebrating the sabbats. (In my family we also give a couple of presents at New Year, usually things like calendars and diaries). It started at Samhain 2016 but Imbolg was the first sabbat coming up after I celebrated. In the lead-up to it I did some activities suggested in the book, such as learning about chakras and lighting a candle. I got a Yankee Home Winter Season candle for Christmas, so I burnt that since Imbolg signals the end of winter and the beginning of spring.

Then on the day itself (last Thursday) I made pancakes like I usually do. As I mentioned in my last post I had a lemonade/lemon drink that I got before Christmas and hadn't got round to drinking, so I saved that for Imbolg. It was a lemon and mint one. (I also got a back-up drink in case I didn't like it, but I did, lol).

I made English pancakes (the bigger, thinner ones which are known as crepes in some countries). I don't make them that often so I'm not that good, lol. I did two and they didn't come out that well but never mind! Last year's were better.

Here's a picture from this year:

Saturday, 28 January 2017

Baking- Cookies + Cake

I've been doing some baking recently so thought I would do a baking post. :)

Oatmeal Cookies

The other week I made oatmeal cookies. The recipe is from my new book Magical Housekeeping by Tess Whitehurst. It's actually an oatmeal cookie ritual for abundance and luck but you can make them without doing the ritual. :)

The recipe is adapted from a book called The Garden of Vegan by Tanya Barnard and Sarah Kramer. I'm not vegan, so I made some substitutions. I can't actually copy the recipe on here but here are a couple of other vegan cookie recipes:

The cookies have tofu in them. I'd never cooked with tofu before. I used the Toofoo brands which I bought from Tesco. I used white flour and ordinary white sugar and vegetable oil instead of canola oil. The recipe has agave nectar or maple syrup in it but I decided to use golden syrup with a bit of maple.

I wasn't sure what they would be like but they came out quite nice. The only thing was I think they could have done with being baked a bit longer, because some of them were a bit soft in the middle and the tofu was a bit chewy. But I was worried about burning them! They taste different to ordinary cookies but still yummy. Here's a pic:

Monday, 9 January 2017

Hot Chocolate

I'm into hot chocolate and cocoa at the moment! It's especially good to have during winter evenings. My favourite at the moment is Bournville cocoa but I also recently got some Cadbury's drinking chocolate. The other night I made crock pot hot chocolate, using a recipe from the blog Nashville Wife:

I don't have a crock pot or a slow cooker but my mum suggested I use a Pyrex dish on top of a saucepan of water (I put the chocolate mix in the dish and covered it with foil, then put it on top of the pan) and it worked. A couple years or so ago I made white hot chocolate which was meant to be done in a slow cooker but I just did it in the pan with no covering and I think it could have come our better. Maybe I should try it again using the method I used for this hot chocolate.

This one came out nice. It uses whipping cream and condensed milk, so had a rich, creamier taste and was thicker than ordinary hot chocolate. Here's a pic:

It takes a couple of hours but it's worth it. :)

If you're into a hot chocolate here's a post I did in 2014 about Sam's Stern's hot chocolate (I also made his chocolate milkshake but that didn't come out so well!):

Hope you're keeping warm if it's cold where you are! :)

Brilliant blog posts on

Monday, 2 January 2017

Christmas and New Year 2016/2017

For Christmas this year I made a frosted vanilla cookie cake. It was adapted from this recipe:

The original recipe uses Bailey's coffee creamer (Frosted Vanilla Cookie flavour). While I do like Bailey's (although I haven't had it for ages) I wasn't keen on having it in a cake and I'm also not sure if we can get that flavour coffee creamer in the UK. In the end I used some creamer from Sainsbury's. I don't have creamer often but I used it the other year when I made an iced coffee. I realised afterwards that the Bailey's creamer seems to be a powder whereas the one I got was liquid, but it worked out ok. :)

The original cake has 3 layers but I cut it down to 2 so it was less complicated! lol. The recipe uses shortening which is vegetable fat, I think. My mum suggested I use lard but the only one we had was pork fat and we decided I shouldn't use it because she made a birthday cake for my 7th birthday with lard in the icing which was horrible! lol. In the end I used Stork which I had already in the house and that worked. Shortening is sold under Trex, Flora White and Cooken here, so maybe another time I'll try one of those. Probably Flora White.

The filling is made of sugar cookie crumbs.  For Oestara 2015 made my own sugar cookie bars but I couldn't be bothered to make them on top of the cake! lol. The nearest I could find in the shops were Sainsbury's shortbread rounds (I wanted something soft and sweet). The creamer goes in the filling as well as the cake and it's also in the frosting.

I wasn't sure how the cake would come out because I substituted ingredients but it was nice. Because it only used egg whites (I think this type of cake is called a "white cake" in America, although maybe not exactly because it had all purpose flour aka plain flour, not cake flour in), it made a fluffier, lighter sponge. I cut up some biscuits and put them on top of the cake with sprinkles.

Here are a couple of pictures:

Outside of the cake