Monthly Archives: March 2009

Ostara: It’s Not Just About Rabbits . . .

 . . . but don’t you dare take away our eggs!

 Here we are once again at the balance of night and day. We made it through a tough winter, and its time to start planting the seeds for a healthy, hearty, harvest later this year. Ostara is an old word, derived from the Germanic Oestre or Eostre (“to shine”), and it is the only pagan celebration that is not Celtic in origin. (I can see why, at this time of year the Celts were most likely still trying to keep warm and not thinking about planting just yet — that would be more like late April, or Beltane.)

In our lore, the Maiden is now old enough to become a mother, and this is a feast of loving union. Put more bluntly, the fields need plowing and seeding and the God and Goddess are going to do that for us.

What does that have to do with eggs? Much less colored and decorated eggs? Eggs are one of the most potent (and literal) symbols of fertility, and spring is the season when animals begin to mate and flowers and trees pollinate and reproduce. By decorating eggs with intent and purpose, we are creating simple spells for fertility, luck, abundance, etc. Many cultures, notably the Greeks and Slavic cultures have a long history of decorating eggs to give to others, often with very specific symbols being used and passed down from generation to generation.

This practice continues to this day. Families decorate eggs as part of their culture, most often just buying dyes and using them on hard-boiled eggs. Some get more elaborate and use crayons to mark symbols on the eggs (which remains white after the egg is dyed). Artists, however, have created elaborate and beautiful eggs and there is even a guild, The International Egg Art Guild, which promotes the craft of egg artistry. (The site is full of gorgeous examples.)

So if you want to bring some abundance into your life — whether that means money, fertility, or creativity — take some time to decorate eggs and put some energy towards manifesting that energy in your life. I know I will.

How To Take The Power Away from Crazies

I saw this story originally at the ACLU blog, and had to share.

It seems that members of the Westboro Baptist Church (the home of the vitriolic Fred Phelps, owners of the website and justly vilified for their picketing of military soldiers) decided to protest against the University of Chicago (for general reasons), the Chicago Theological Seminary (for religious reasons), and the University’s former employment of Barack Obama in the Law School (for racial[?] reasons) on March 10th.

In response, more than 100 students gathered in demonstration against the Church protesters. They didn’t shout, they didn’t provoke; instead, they mocked. They passed out leaflets explaining that ‘God hates figs’ (based on a biblical passage wherein Jesus rails against the fig no less). A fraternity stripped to their boxers and danced to “I’m Coming Out” and the infamous “It’s Raining Men”.  Students from the CTS held signs reading “Chicago Theological Seminary: Question, Teach, Transform.”

There are fabulous pictures at the above link. Enjoy.

Summer on My Tongue: Corn & Crab Soup

Soup might be too strong a word, and this started out as a chowder, but I decided not to add any milk because the corn juice was so tasty (and there was a lot of it). So there is just enough broth to keep this meal juicy but not enough to slurp every spoonful. Is there a word for that kind of dish?

Crab & Corn Soup

1 sm onion, diced small

1/2 red bell pepper, diced small

2 medium carrots, diced small

2 medium celery stalks, diced small

1 Tbl olive oil

1 Tbl butter

1/2 tsp salt

2 15-oz cans corn

1 lb lump crab meat

In a medium-large heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat the oil and butter together over med-high heat. Add onion, bell pepper, carrot and celery and saute until translucent, about 5 minutes.

Reduce heat to medium. Add salt and corn including the juices (which should be about 12 oz, if less, add chicken stock or water to make up the difference). Cover and cook at a low simmer 8 minutes. Add crab meat and stir to combine.

Serve in bowls with whole grain biscuits and a salad.

Let the Sunshine In!

It’s Sunshine Week — the  national initiative to open a dialogue about the importance of open government and freedom of information.

Today I received this from the EFF:

Over the past two and a half years, EFF has filed hundreds of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests and made thousands of pages of once-secret documents available to the public on our website. When the government dragged its feet or tried to deny our requests, we filed lawsuits to hold it accountable. As a result, we’ve shed light on many controversial government initiatives, including:

  • The Department of Homeland Security’s internal policies on searching travelers at the U.S. border;
  • Details about invasive government data-mining efforts like the Automated Targeting System and ADVISE; and
  • The FBI‘s misuse of National Security Letters to silence and investigate individuals.

These victories would not have been possible without the support of people like you. As we celebrate Sunshine Week, please support EFF in our efforts to make government more transparent:

Donate to EFF this week, and help us shine a light on government secrets. It’s time to make open government a reality!

Also today, the EFF launched a search tool to examine thousands of government documents. “The new search capability enables visitors to EFF’s website to conduct keyword searches across the universe of government documents obtained by EFF, maximizing the value of the documents.” (From the press release.)

If you can spare the cash, give some to them. In either case, pass the word.

Spamming the Blog: Update

I found this comment — labeled spam by the glorious Akismet — absolutely hilarious:

I found your topic “Spamming the Blog –” when i was searching for curtain tracks and it is really intresting for me. If its OK for you i would like to translate your topic and post it on my german blog about curtain tracks. I link back to your topic of course!

They’ve really gotten tricky.  .  . or so they think!

Earth Hour

Sponsored by the World Wildlife Fund, the idea behind Earth Hour is to show how even a small conservation effort — like giving up just 60 minutes of lights — can have a big impact when a lot of people do it. The “official” action is to shut off your lights for an hour starting at 8:30pm, local time.

I’m planning to turn everything electric off. Of course, I’m also going to be out of town for the weekend (wedding in Cleveland, OH and not coincidentally raising Daystar to his 3rd*). But at 8:30pm I’ll be in a hotel room, and I intend to turn everything I can off. J. and I will just sit in the dark and giggle for awhile. (It’s a good thing he still finds me charming.)

You can pledge to participate on the Earth Hour site, either as an individual or as a group. Seattle is a participant, as are many cities in the US.

Weekly Silliness: Song Title Description

I haven’t done this in a while . . .

Using ONLY SONG TITLES from ONE artist, cleverly answer these questions:

Pick a band/artist: Garbage

1. Are you a male or female: Androgyny
2. Describe yourself: I Think I’m Paranoid
3. How do you feel about yourself: You Look So Fine
4. Describe your ex boyfriend: Bad Boyfriend
5. Describe your current boy/girl situation: Til The Day I Die
6. Describe your current location: Happy Home
7. Describe where you want to be: Afterglow
8. Your best friend is: Cup of Coffee
9. Your favorite color is: Cherry Lips
10. You know that: Why Don’t You Come Over
11. What’s the weather like: I’m Only Happy When It Rains
12. If your life was a television show what would it be called? The Trick Is to Keep Breathing
13. What is life to you: Wild Horses
14. What is the best advice you have to give: Sex Is Not The Enemy
15. If you could change your name what would you change it to: Tornado


Heaven in a Bowl: Creamed Chicken & Grits

This was incredibly good, and the first time I’ve ever made grits to boot. Using leftovers and frozen vegetables makes this easy and fairly quick to put together.

Creamed Chicken & Grits

4 ½ c chicken broth
½ tsp salt
1 c instant grits
½ tsp dried thyme

1 chicken, roasted and boned, cut into bite-size pieces
16 oz mixed vegetables (I suggest one that is basically uniform or in bite-size pieces)
2 tsp cornstarch
1/4 c milk
12 oz evaporated milk
1/2 c milk
1 ½ c cheddar cheese, grated
½ c smoked gouda, grated
½ tsp dry mustard
¼ tsp garlic powder (optional)
¼ tsp cayenne
½ tsp salt

Grease a cake pan with butter.

Bring chicken broth and salt in a heavy saucepan to a boil. Add grits and thyme and reduce heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, 5-6 minutes or until grits are thick.

Pour into the cake pan, cook slightly, and then chill in refrigerator until solid.

Add the evaporated milk, 1/2 cup milk, mustard, garlic powder (if using), cayenne, and 1/2 teaspoon salt to a medium, heavy saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce to a simmer.

Whisk the cornstarch and remaining 1/4 cup milk together, then whisk it into the simmering mixture. Continue to simmer, whisking constantly, until the sauce has thickened and is smooth, about 2 minutes.

Off the heat, gradually whisk in the cheese until melted and smooth.

In the meantime, cook the vegetables (steam or microwave, as you prefer) until just done.

Unmold grits onto a broiler-safe pan. Cut into 8 wedges and separate. Broil 5 minutes until lightly golden.

Stir the chicken and vegetables into the cheese sauce and let until the sauce has thickened slightly, 2 to 5 minutes, before serving.

To serve: place two wedges of grits on a plate and spoon creamed chicken over.