Sunday, 23 December 2018
Sunday, 16 December 2018
Yule, also known as Midwinter and the Winter Solstice, is nearly here. It's on 21st December (Friday) this year. (The date varies but is always around the 21st). The Winter Solstice is when the North Pole is furthest away from the sun, and the actual time it will happen this year will be around 10.23pm UK time (GMT). To find the time in your country visit this link: https://www.timeanddate.com/calendar/winter-solstice.html
It's the final sabbat of the calendar year, but the 1st/2nd in the Wheel of the Year seasonal cycle. I say 1st and 2nd because while Samhain is the end of the old year, it's also thought to be the start of the new. Some people start with Samhain as the beginning of the Wheel, others start with Yule. I tend to think of Samhain as both really (the last harvest festival of the year but also the start of a new cycle) and list it first. You can read more about it here: http://paganism-wicca.yoexpert.com/sabbats-and-holidays-13108/is-it-true-that-samhain-marks-the-witches-new-year-36057.html
And here is an interesting article about how the celebration of New Year varies: https://www.patheos.com/blogs/panmankey/2013/11/happy-pagan-new-year/
Note: If you're in the Southern Hemisphere it will soon be Litha aka Midsummer/the Summer solstice. Here are my Litha celebration ideas posts:
(Also a post about no-yeast dinner rolls): https://livingseasonal.blogspot.com/2017/06/baking-no-yeast-dinner-rolls-and.html
Last year I did a post about Yule celebration ideas which you can read here: https://livingseasonal.blogspot.com/2017/12/yule-celebration-ideas.html
This year I thought I'd write about celebrating both Yule and Christmas, similar to the Celebrating Beltane/May Day and Samhain/Hallowe'en posts, since I enjoy celebrating both. :)
Monday, 3 December 2018
A year ago I wrote a post about getting ready for winter, which you can read here: https://livingseasonal.blogspot.com/2017/12/getting-ready-for-winter.html
Now winter is coming again, and this year I'm going to do a round-up of previous winter posts and share some links with inspiration for the season. :)
Note: If you're in the Southern Hemisphere you might like this post about celebrating Litha/the Summer Solstice and summer: https://livingseasonal.blogspot.com/2018/06/celebrating-litha-summer.html
While I find it easy to be inspired by summer (since it's my favourite season and I like hot weather), I find winter a lot harder! I don't like cold weather and winter can be quite dreary. I like autumn because it's a beautiful time of year, but it seems quite brief really. By the end of November most of the trees in my area had lost their leaves and the lovely colours had faded. While we're still technically in autumn, if you follow the astronomical definition of winter which is around 21st December (the meteorological one is 1st Dec), it's starting to feel more like winter now. Some parts of the country have had snow. There hasn't been any in my town yet but in my area they had some. The temperature is 12 degrees Celsius (54 F) today though, so warmer. It's supposed to go down to 7 tonight. Next week the coldest during the day will be about 7, so we're not in proper winter weather yet! This past winter seemed quite long with more snow than usual in the UK and I was ready when spring arrived! It will be nice if we get snow again this year/early next year though.
Sunday, 11 November 2018
|Fireworks at Lancing Beach Green|
Sunday, 4 November 2018
Here's a picture of the pumpkin and pumpkin lantern (both have tealights inside):
|Came out a bit blurry but nice effect!|
Monday, 29 October 2018
It's time for Samhain! This year it's on a Wednesday (31st October). Samhain is my favourite sabbat (apart from Lammas). I also celebrate Hallowe'en, the modern version of Samhain. I celebrated Hallowe'en as a child, so I have combined celebrations these days.
Note: If you're in the Southern Hemisphere it's Beltane! Check out my Beltane Celebration posts here:
In the past two years I've done posts about celebrating Hallowe'en and Samhain. You can read them here:
This year I'm sharing more ideas for celebrating both Samhain and Hallowe'en, so hopefully there's something to suit you if you celebrate both (like I do) or prefer one or the other. :)
Hallowe'en (more commonly spelt Halloween, but you can also spell as "Hallowe'en because it's a shortened version of All Hallows' Even) is thought to have originated from Samhain. In later years 1st November was made All Saint's Day by the Christian church, and the night before was known as All Hallows Evening (shortened to All Hallows' Ev'en or Eve). It's the time of year when the veil between the worlds (this world and the next, or the world beyond the one we know) thins and your loved ones may come back to visit. Also spirits are more likely to be around in general and the practice of lighting a pumpkin is thought to have originated from the pagan ritual of lighting a candle to honour and welcome your ancestors, and keep unwanted spirits away. (See below for more). For more about the history of Hallowe'en you can read this article: https://www.history.com/topics/halloween/history-of-halloween
Monday, 15 October 2018
I thought I'd share some recent photos I took and also some links with ideas for celebrating autumn. (Doesn't seem that long since I shared spring pictures, but it's 6 months ago now and 3 since I posted some summer photos!).
|Trees in Sompting|
Monday, 24 September 2018
Yesterday was Madron, also known as Mabon and the Autumn Equinox. Or Saturday depending on your time zone, as I mentioned in my Celebrating Madron and Autumn post, the actual equinox time and date in the UK was 2.54am on Sunday 23rd Sept, but in the US it was 9.54pm EST on Saturday the 22nd.
My main celebration was baking a ginger spice cake. It was based on this spiced wacky cake recipe:
Update 15/9/21: The Country Cook recipe is now gone but you can find a somewhat similar one here (no pumpkin spice in this one): https://thebestcakerecipes.com/spice-crazy-cake/
I'd had the recipe saved on Pinterest for a while so this was a good opportunity to use it! I didn't know what a wacky cake was, but on the site Brandie explains that they're also called Depression-era cakes because they were good to make if you didn't have many ingredients in such as eggs, butter and milk. This recipe uses white vinegar and vegetable oil.
The original recipe uses pumpkin spice. I'm not sure if that's widely available in the UK, but there might be some places that do it. I decided to use ginger and mixed spices instead though, so I put a tablespoon of ginger and mixed spice in (rather than 1TBSP pumpkin spice). The frosting for the spiced wacky cake is a vanilla buttercream one from the Food Network website, but the site itself isn't available in the UK (not sure why!) so I couldn't see the recipe. Rather than make another vanilla frosting I decided to use the cream cheese icing one from the frosted white chocolate Easter cake I've made a few times (most recently this Easter). You can see that recipe here: https://livingseasonal.blogspot.com/2017/04/frosted-white-chocolate-easter-cake.html
I'd previously used the same icing for the ginger beer cake I baked for Madron 2016, so thought it would work. It did go well and the cake itself tastes quite nice. Nice flavour and the ginger and mixed spices aren't too overpowering. The sponge is a bit chewier than some cakes though, maybe because of the oil. Here are a couple of pics:
|The mark is just a hole in the icing!|
Sunday, 16 September 2018
Madron, also known as Mabon and the Autumn Equinox, is coming up next weekend. This year it's Sunday 23rd September. Note: This may be different depending on your time zone, the actual equinox time and date in the UK is 2.54 am on Sunday 23rd Sept, but in the US it's 9.54 pm EST on Saturday the 22nd. So celebrate at the appropriate time for you. The energy of the sabbats is thought to be active for a couple of days either side anyway. :)
Last year I did a post on ways to celebrate. You can read it here: https://livingseasonal.blogspot.com/2017/09/madronautumn-equinox-celebration-ideas.html
So for 2018 I thought I'd do one about celebrating both Madron and autumn in general, like my previous ones about Oestara and spring, and Litha and summer.
Note: If you're in the Southern Hemipshere it's time for Oestara/Ostara and spring. You might like this post: https://livingseasonal.blogspot.com/2018/03/celebrating-oestara-spring.html
Update 20/9/18: Added a couple of extra links. :)
Madron (more commonly known as Mabon but I was first introduced to it as "Madron" in Kate West's books) and the Autumn Equinox is the time when day and night is equal. It's the opposite of the Spring Equinox. Since Litha/the Summer Solstice which was the longest day of the year, the days have been getting gradually shorter. I've only really noticed it in recent weeks, sunset is now around 7.15pm. After Madron days will continue to get shorter and nights longer, until Yule aka the Winter Solstice, just before Christmas. So Madron is a time of balance.
Sunday, 2 September 2018
Last December I started a series of post about preparing for the coming seasons, the first post was Getting Ready for Winter. I followed that up with Getting Ready for Spring and Getting Ready for Summer, so now here is a post on getting ready for autumn, to complete the seasonal circle. :)
Note: If spring is coming up where you are check out the spring post: https://livingseasonal.blogspot.com/2018/03/getting-ready-for-spring.html
After what has felt like an especially long, hot summer, the weather has cooled down and autumn is coming. We seem to have had some weird weather in the UK this year, with snow storms in March and more snow than usual here in Sussex. Then in April we had hotter weather than usual for spring, and then a hot summer. I did enjoy the hotter weather, although I struggled a bit to adjust to the heat. In the past couple of weeks or so it's cooled down and now it's feeling more like autumn. The light shifts towards the end of August, mellows, and also now the shorter days (since Litha/the Summer Solstice they shorten by about a minute every 3 days and about 3 mins a day by Madron aka the Autumn Equinox) are becoming a bit more noticeable with sunset before 8pm instead of after 9 earlier in the summer.
It has actually warmed up these past couple of days and I'm planning to go to the beach tomorrow to make the most of the weather, before summer is officially over! But I'm also concentrating on moving into autumn.
As with the other seasons, there are two "official" starts to autumn- meteorological autumn which is 1st September, and astronomical autumn which is around 22nd September when the Autumn Equinox (Madron/Mabon) is. This year Madron is 23rd Sept. For more information read this post: https://www.metoffice.gov.uk/learning/seasons/autumn/when-does-autumn-start
Sunday, 19 August 2018
Now we're coming to the end of summer. Almost a year ago I did an End of Summer post and it seems strange that we're already in mid-late August again. Doesn't seem that long since spring! Back in April we had some unusually hot weather, then it returned to more normal temperatures for the time of year. In July and earlier this month we had a heatwave and it was said to be the hottest summer for several years. It's cooled down now but but may heat up again at the end of the month.
Here are a few more pictures I've taken this summer:
|Hove Park- July '18.|
Sunday, 5 August 2018
I had my pasty for lunch with some Bulmers cider. Here's a pic:
Sunday, 29 July 2018
Lammas, one of my favourite sabbats (along with Samhain) is coming up. It's this Wednesday 1st August (although some may celebrate it on 31st July, or start their celebrations from sunset on the 31st). Last year I did a post about Lammas celebration ideas which you can read here: https://livingseasonal.blogspot.com/2017/07/lammas-celebration-ideas.html
This year I'll write some more about preparing for and celebrating Lammas. :)
Note: If you're in the Southern Hemisphere, Imbolg/Imbolc is coming up and you might like this post: https://livingseasonal.blogspot.com/2018/01/imbolg-celebration-ideas.html
Lammas (also known as Lughnasadh) is harvest time, the first of the 3 harvest festivals (the others are Madron/Mabon and Samhain). The God will be sacrificed for the land and then later reborn. The Goddess has now become the Mother and is pregnant with the new God, who she will give birth to at Yule aka the Winter Solstice. You can read more here: https://whisperingworlds.com/wiccan/lammas.php
Here are a couple more links about Lammas:
Monday, 16 July 2018
Back in April I shared some spring photos (we had some unusually hot weather for a bit then, which made it seem more like early summer), so thought it would be good to share some summer ones today. :)
First of all here are a few pics from Worthing Beach:
Monday, 25 June 2018
|I made more than this, just had a bit with lunch.|
Sunday, 17 June 2018
It's Litha, also known as Midsummer/the Summer Solstice this upcoming week (Thursday 21st June) and so I'm doing a new post on celebration ideas. I first did one last year which you can read here (also a baking post): https://livingseasonal.blogspot.com/2017/06/baking-no-yeast-dinner-rolls-and.html
Like I did with my Celebrating Oestara + Spring post back in March, I'm combining ideas for Litha and celebrating summer in general. :)
Note: For those in the Southern Hemisphere winter is starting and Yule aka Midwinter/the Winter Solstice is coming up. You might enjoy this post: https://livingseasonal.blogspot.com/2017/12/yule-celebration-ideas.html
At the beginning of the month I wrote a post on getting ready for summer which you can see here: https://livingseasonal.blogspot.com/2018/06/getting-ready-for-summer_3.html
As I mentioned there, the Summer Solstice is the official start of summer (around 20th June) but the meteorological start is 1st June. It definitely feels like summer has already started, since we've had some nice, hotter weather. (Although not so much today!).
Sunday, 3 June 2018
Sunday, 20 May 2018
First of all I made cheese scones a couple of weekends ago. They were for my mum's birthday because she likes them. :) I personally prefer sweet scones but cheese are nice too.
The recipe is from Sam Stern's Cheese Scone Tea in his Student Cookbook.
Cheese Scone tea
225g/8oz plain white flour
4 level tsps baking powder
Good pinch salt
Pinch dry mustard and/or cayenne pepper
50g/20z finely grated Cheddar (I used half Red Leicester, half Canadian cheddar)
1 large egg, beaten
4 tbsps cold water
Note: I've only copied the ingredients out because I believe that's all I'm allowed to do legally. The recipe isn't on Sam's website but you can find a similar one from All Recipes here: http://allrecipes.co.uk/recipe/36349/rich-cheese-scones.aspx
There is one online for Sam's sweet scones in a Yorkshire Cream Tea: http://www.samstern.co.uk/recipe/yorkshire-cream-tea/
And here's another one from BBC Food: https://www.bbc.com/food/recipes/cheesescones_1287
The BBC Food one uses self raising flour rather than plain white flour and baking powder, which are in the Sam recipe.
Paul Hollywood also has a recipe for wholemeal cheese scones that uses plain flour and baking powder: https://www.bbc.com/food/recipes/wholemeal_cheese_scones_12017
The recipe I made has Cheddar cheese in but I used half Red Leicester and half Canadian Cheddar. They came out quite nice. Here's a picture:
|Foil got a bit burnt but never mind!|
Sunday, 6 May 2018
There's a ciabatta bread recipe in The Kitchen Witch but I bought some from Tesco instead, lol. The salad is a ready made one from Tesco as well. It all went nicely together. Here's a pic:
Sunday, 29 April 2018
It's almost time for Beltane again! This year it's on a Tuesday (1st May), although some celebrate it on 30th April, so in that case it's tomorrow. :) I believe that some people consider sabbats to last from sundown to sundown. So Beltane would start at sunset on 30th April and finish at sunset on 1st May. It's also called May Eve.
Note: If you're in the Northern Hemipshere it's time for Samhain! Check out my Samhain Celebration posts here:
Last year I did a post on Beltane celebration ideas which you can read here: https://livingseasonal.blogspot.com/2017/04/beltane-celebration-ideas.html
This year here are more ideas for celebrating and I thought I'd also include some ideas for May Day, the modern counterpart which is still celebrated in many places, including the UK. The first Monday in May in the Early May Bank Holiday here; this year it's 7th May.
Sunday, 22 April 2018
|Apple blossom (I think) trees in Hove Park|
Monday, 9 April 2018
Here is a picture of this year's cake:
Sunday, 25 March 2018
I couldn't find white Maltesers so I just used ordinary ones for the top of the cake. I put Cadbury Mini Eggs on top as well. The recipe requires Malteser drinking chocolate, so I put in two 50g sachets and I used Tesco white chocolate for the icing. It came out quite nice. Here's a picture:
Sunday, 18 March 2018
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: https://livingseasonal.blogspot.com/2017/09/madronautumn-equinox-celebration-ideas.html
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!
Last year I wrote a post on Oestara and Spring Equinox celebration ideas. Check it out here: https://livingseasonal.blogspot.com/2017/03/oestaraspring-equinox-celebration-ideas.html
Monday, 5 March 2018
Back in December I did a post on getting ready for winter. You can read that here: https://livingseasonal.blogspot.com/2017/12/getting-ready-for-winter.html
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: https://www.kentlive.news/whats-on/whats-on-news/first-day-spring-2018-1239047
My birthday is actually on 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
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: https://main-coopfoodmagazine-rivergroup.content.pugpig.com/2018/01/11/food-news-8/pugpig_index.html
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
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
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: https://livingseasonal.blogspot.com/2017/07/lammas-celebration-ideas.html
Imbolg or Imbolc, also known as 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
Summer is my favourite season 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 lately 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: https://www.thespruce.com/hot-cocoa-vs-drinking-chocolate-3971361
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: http://afiremanswife.com/2016/11/23/homemade-hot-cocoa/
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.
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: https://www.starbucks.co.uk/menu/drinks/hot-chocolates-and-other-drinks
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: https://www.mcdonalds.com/gb/en-gb/menu/mccafe.html
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: https://livingseasonal.blogspot.co.uk/2014/09/chocolate-drinks.html
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): https://livingseasonal.blogspot.co.uk/2017/01/hot-chocolate.html
French hot chocolate (haven't made this but it looks good, it's dark chocolate): https://www.wellplated.com/french-hot-chocolate/
White hot chocolate
I first made this nearly 4 years ago but 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: https://livingseasonal.blogspot.co.uk/2014/03/white-hot-chocolate.html
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
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: