Welcome to my blog!

Merry Meet & Thank you for visiting!
This blog is all about all the things that make me up. I am a Mother, I am a Pagan Witch, I am a Wife, I am a homemaker, I am a student, I am Spiritual, I am a Teacher, I am Liberal Hippie, I am a Voter, and I am extremely opinionated! Plan to see it all! If you don't like what you see, feel free to leave! However, chances are, if you stick around, you'll find more to love than hate!


Friday, December 21, 2012

Blessed Winter Solstice

From Me - To All Of You!

Taking some time off...

While I wish I could say I have all the time in the world to spend online researching, writing and posting here and on facebook. It's simply not true. But I do spend a good bit of my time that way most of the time.  However, my children and husband all have off from school/work until January 2, so I have decided I am going to do the same.

I love my blog and my readers - I thank each and every one of you for spending your time with me - but the fact is, this time of year is about family, first and foremost... So I am going to spend my time with them, and hope you all will do the same!

Blessed Solstice and Merry Christmas! I will see you all in the New Year!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Making Natural Inks

I have been reading a book called Green Spirituality lately. And it's got a lot of great ideas. Meditating with Trees, Nature walks, Talking with the flowers... Great stuff, but one thing that I really loved was a section on making your own paper and inks. Now, I've made paper in the past and love using herbs and flowers in papers made for spell work to help boost the energy. But I never thought of making my own inks.

The book talked about how using inks made with herbs, flowers or even tree leaves or nuts can help to imbue your work with the energies of that particular plant. Now some plants are known for their specific correspondence to one thing or another - love, protection, prosperity, etc. - while others are known for a correspondence to magick in general. Echinacea for example, is known for providing that extra little "oomph" to any spell it's associated with. This, in my opinion, makes it the perfect option for writing in your Book of Shadows with! Is there really a more magickal book? Why not use it to aid ALL your magick?  Or if you have something you feel it's really important to remember, why not use ink made from Rosemary, as it aids concentration and memory. Working on a charm for a child with nightmares? How about writing it in Anise Ink and placing it under their mattress?

We all know plant energy is wonderful for all kinds of magick, but how many of us have really considered ink? I know I hadn't. I burn herbs and flowers as incense. I add them to potions. I bury them when doing Earth Magick. Hell, I use them in medicine and cleaners and just about everything. But where does most of my "work" energy go when working on a new spell or potion or ritual? Writing! It takes all my focus and concentration to create the words and get them right - so WHY would I not also incorporate hose same plant based energies in to the process? Well, now that I think about it, I would, and I should! It only makes sense!

And apparently it was a message I was meant to get! Because the day after I was reading about making plant based inks in my book, someone on my facebook feed posted a link to a blog on the same subject. Well, I don't believe in coincidences! This was a message I was meant to get, and so, it's one I got! And now, it's one I'm passing on.

Happy Creating!

NOTE:  This same method can be used with just about any plant or plant part! Although this post is specifically about flowers, you can simply substitute roots, leaves or even berries or other fruits if they better suit your needs! 

All About Herbal Tinctures

A tincture by definition is an herbal alcohol solution. Herbalists believe tinctures to be a benefit by combining the benefits of a topical medicine and aroma therapy. Although SOME can be taken orally as well. However, do your research before ingesting anything! Some herbs are toxic and ingesting them can be very dangerous!

Tinctures will vary in portions of herbs vs alcohol, but are at LEAST 45% alcohol and 25% herbs. According to the United States Pharmacological Convention anything with lower than 45% alcohol is NOT considered a Tincture, but infusions.

Herbalists generally believe herbal tinctures to be more powerful and longer lasting than dried herbs. They are also more effective in releasing all the medical components from the plant than other methods of using herbs. Active ingredients from the plants are more easily extracted by alcohol than by other liquids and they do not loose their potency as they do when heated, as in tea.

Also, by making they yourself you're able to both control the quality of the product and save money. Because you control the purity and quality of the herbs and alcohol used you know exactly what you're getting. But you are also able to skip the up-charges and "middle man" fees. So it's really a win win. And even better - you're able to create mixes and blends that are perfect for you!

Most herbs are considered to be more potent and produce better tinctures when fresh, however there are a few which MUST be dried first... Other herbal tinctures require time to age before they are of any real value. A small amount of research goes a long way as each herb is different. General recipes for tinctures will give you a basic foundation for understanding tincture creation, but for the best result you should find a specific recipe.

While actual amounts will vary from herb to herb, if you can't find an exact recipe you can use a basic recipe. For dried herbs this means a 1:5 ratio with alcohol (1pt herbs to 5pt alcohol) and a 1:2 ratio for fresh. Tinctures made from dried herbs to have less than the 25% herb volume usually required for tincture classification, but because they are concentrated they are in fact still considered to be properly made.

This is the video that really got me in to making tinctures. It's a little funky, but the information is great!

Basic Herbal Tincture Prep.

You will need:
  • Sterilized Mason jar with tightly fitting lid.
  • Coffee Grinder, Blender, Knife or Something Equal
  • Herb either dried or fresh
  • 80 - 100 proof Alcohol (Vodka or Rum are common)
  • Small Dark Glass Dropper Bottles
  • Cheese Cloth
  • Marker & Labels
What to do:

  1. Chop Fresh or Dried Herbs as finely as possible. Coffee grinders, Food processors, Blenders or a simple knife work. The finer the better.
    **Herbs which are chopped or powdered more easily allow for the plant materials to be extracted. 
  2. Decide how much alcohol is needed by weighing plant materials.
  3. Place plant materials in jar & cover with proper amount of alcohol.
  4. Seal the jar with lid. Label and Date. And place in cool, dry, dark place. 
  5. Shake jar each day for two weeks.
  6. After two week, strain the tincture using cheesecloth or similar product. 
  7. Tinctures are usually stored in small dark glass, dropper bottles. Poor strained alcohol in to final labeled bottle. Store in cool, dry, dark area.

Additional Tips:
  • 200g of dried herbs or 300g of fresh chopped herbs will need aprox. 1l of liquid.
  • For tinctures which will be ingested, Rum will help disguise the taste of bitter herbs.
  • Standard oral dosage is 1 teaspoon, 1-3 times daily, diluted in tea, juice or water.
  • Tinctures can last up to 2 years if stored properly. 

The BEST place I know of to buy Herbs is Mountain Rose Herbs! Unless you can find them locally, or grow your own!

**Originally Written and Posted on my One Witch's Wonderland Blog, which has since closed.

All the Wonders of Apple Cider Vinegar

Scientific evidence shows that apple cider vinegar is able to lower cholesterol, lower blood pressure, slow the growth of cancer cells and aid weight loss.

There is also preliminary research into so many other uses, such as using ACV for reducing acne and eczema, shortening cold duration, eliminating dandruff and many more.

ACV is one of the miracles of nature and if you’d like to discover what you can use it for and how to use it, then click the link below to discover all of it’s wonders…

Get all the details:   http://mymerrymessylife.com/2012/03/apple-cider-vinegar-all-its-wonders.html

I'm Psyched for the Les Miserables Movie!

I am currently working on a "50 Favorite Movies" post, but since this one won't be out in time for me to watch it and decide if it should go on the list (although I'm sure it will) I am going to talk about it here. First, you need to know there are few things I love more in this world than Musical Theater. Unfortunately for me, I can't sing to save my life and wouldn't make it on Broadway (or CLO for that matter) to save my life. Fortunately for me, Musical Theater has become more and more popular over the past few years and there are always new and better deals for tickets to see the shows the Pittsburgh CLO puts on.

If I had to rate my favorite Musicals - which I may just do in the future - Les Miz would without a doubt be in the top 5! So I have to say I was super psyched to hear about a new musical version coming in film version!

It's coming to theaters Christmas Day, and I have to say, it's hard for me not to tell the kids "Tough, Mommy's leaving and going to see a movie!"

Yes, yes, there are other film versions, one of which will be on my 50 favs list, but they aren't musicals! And frankly, while I love the story as a whole, the music makes it what it is! And seriously, Hugh Jackman? Yeah, I may have to pre-order my Blue-ray NOW! lol

Who's with me? Who says we skip out on friends and family and head to the theater? That's kinda where my vote is going! lol

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Lemon Rosemary Shortbread Solstice Cookies

Still need the perfect recipe for Solstice? These would not only make a great addition to a gathering, but if you're alone - or even if your not - they would make the perfect "Cakes" for your Solstice Ritual!

Make sure to make an extra batch - you'll need the extras!

Build a Wall Desk

This is a great idea! This spring we are planning to move our boys up in to the attic and out of the room they are in now. This will be PERFECT for their "work station." A great place for homework and art, and really easy to do!

Possibly, an adult sized version would be great for my workspace!

Cardboard Box House Fun

We all know kids usually prefer to play with the boxes than with the gifts. And it usually makes us parents question why we even spent money on gifts in the first place. Every year I swear I'm just going to buy them boxes! lol

So this year, don't just let them play with the boxes, instead, help them! This is definitely something mom and dad will have to help with, but without a doubt, it will be more than worth it!

Red Velvet Hot Chocolate

This popped up in my feed just this morning... Without a doubt, I'm making these for Christmas Eve with the fam! I mean seriously, is there anything better than festive fresh and creamy hot chocolate? Yeah, I didn't think so! And with as many kids as we have (our own plus the niece & nephew) it's nice to have something that's good for both kids and adults! This is something everyone will enjoy!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Pagan Basics: Witchcraft Traditions

I get questions a good bit about "What do Witches believe" and this is a question which is always hard to answer. As I touched on in the "What is a Witch" post there are so many paths - Pagan and Non-Pagan - which a Witch may walk. So it's nearly impossible to answer that question and include everyone in my answer. There is a saying "Ask 12 witches and you'll get 13 answers." However, what you can do is look in to some of the more common paths and get a basic understanding of the beliefs of Witches which follow THOSE paths... However, remember, even these are generalizations or introductions - for more information on any one path, you would need to do some further exploration.

 There are three major categories of Witchcraft Traditions:
Classical Witchcraft
Early Nordic which included the Germanic languages, Dutch, Icelandic, Danish, Norwegian and Swedish peoples.
Gothic Witchcraft
Celtic, Anglo-Saxon which includes Druid, Irish, Scottish, and English, as well as, many of the French, and Italian cultures.
Neo-Pagan Witchcraft
Modern sects which have primarily been influenced by the melding of all previous traditions through evolution and expansion of those historical denominations.
 The following is a small sampling of many different traditions. This by no means is a complete list.
Classical Craft
Encompasses many traditional rituals with a basis of Egyptian magik and often follow the ceremonies outlined in the ancient Cabalistic writings.
A tradition begun in Italy around 1353. Often associated with it's founder, a woman called Aradia.
The Teutons have been recognized as one of the earliest and formal practioners of the craft. Their ways of practicing the Craft are also known as Nordic.
Many people add Romani (which is a Germanic Gypsy practice) to this list. Others argue this gypsy traditions is based more in the tradition of Gypsy con artists than spirituality. It's an argument that is not easily discussed or resolved.
Gothic Craft
Of Scottish traditions, this sect is also known as Hecatine. It continues to encompass many of the festivals and celebrations of the Scots.
A mix of Celtic/Druidic pantheon energy. This sect focuses heavily on the elements, nature and the Ancient Ones. With a great knowledge of healing and the magikal qualities of nature, including plants, animals and stones, this tradition is most commonly linked to in the Neo-Pagan sects. Aided by the little people, gnomes and fairies, Celtic magik is full of fun, mirth and mythology.
A combination of Celtic and Native American traditions, specifically Cherokee. Focused primarily on Celtic origins. Formed in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee, the Carolinas and southwestern Virginia, it's a tradition born from intercultural exchanges and marriages between these two cultures.
    Deborean Wicca
An American eclectic tradition which attempts to reconstruct Wicca as it was before 'The Burning Times' or the European witch craze.
A very famous husband and wife team from England, Janet and Stewart Farrar compiled and researched many of the ancient and modern sects to pull the best parts of all into one. Many of today's modern sects are in one way or another based on these studies and compiled materials.
Based on family traditions passed on generation to generation, (does not included Channeling). Also called "Family Trades", it is up for debate how far back on the family tree one must go to meet the conditions of this sect. The traditions can be passed on to blood relatives or adopted offspring which have been raised within the family ceremonies and rituals. The beliefs are typically Celtic in nature, but include a smattering of many of the current and ancient structures, as well as, many home spun ones.
Also of Scottish tradition, this sect focuses heavily on all aspects of nature. It is a solitary form of Craft.
Neo-Pagan Craft
Founded in the 1960s by Alex Sanders in England, this sect is loosely based on the Gardenarian beliefs. Sanders built his sect in England and called himself "King" of the Coven.
    British Traditional
A mix of Celtic and Gardenarian rituals it is the most famous organization in the International Red Garters society. This sect is based on the Farrar studies of Wicca and is exceptionally structured in belief and ritual. A witch becomes part of the Coven through a training, education and degree process.
Also called "the Feminist" movement of the craft, this sect focuses on the Goddess aspect of Witchcraft. It was first brought to major attention in 1921 by Margaret Murray and includes aspects of many Classical and Gothic traditions.
This is a label for the "everything else" in Witchcraft. It does not follow any particular tradition, ritual or ceremonial practices. Rather practioners focus on what "feels" best and most comfortable to them. Study and practice is than based on information gathered from books, or other practicing witches.
    Faeri/ Faery Wicca
This tradition places an emphasis on the Fae (gnomes, elves, faeries, sprites, etc.), their lore, and their relation to the natural world. Many associate this tradition with an ancient fairy race called the Tuatha De Danaan, the mythological precursors to the Celtic people. It is often, but not always, associated with the Faery tradition founded by author Kisma Stepanich.
    Feri Wicca
Not to be confused with Faeri Wicca. Feri Wicca is based on Victor Anderson's (1917-2001) was developed in the late 1950's and early 1960's. It is an ecstatic, rather than a fertility, tradition stemming from the teachings of Cora and Victor Anderson . Strong emphasis is placed on sensual experience and awareness, including sexual mysticism, which is not limited to heterosexual expression
    Gardnerian Wicca / Wicca
Named after it's founder Gerald Gardner in England during the 1950s. Gardner wanted to ensure that the Old Religion not become extinct by all the new found knowledge and inter-mixing of beliefs. He took his cause to the media at great personal risk to bring his cause and information to a new younger audience in order to bring growth and life to the ancient traditions.
Based on the Saxon beliefs, this sect is very closely related to the Gardnerian traditions. Without breaking his oath, founder Raymond Buckland wanted to pull the ancient rituals into modern language and acceptable ceremonies. In 1973 his dream became a reality with the organization of Seax-Wicca, bringing Witchcraft into the public as a very positive force.
 **This information comes from my personal BOS, nearly word for word. However, I added it years ago and do not know who originally wrote it or where it came from. If this is your work, please let me know so that I may provide proper credit!

Boycott Organic Brands that Support GMO's

It seems people today scream Boycott, a lot. But the fact is that it seems to be the only way companies will take notice! So while I am not a fan of the idea, I feel it's sometimes worth doing. In this case, I would agree that boycotting these brands is not enough! If product numbers on these brands drop, the parent companies will simply stop making them and return to their "pre-organic" brands. It's the parent companies which need to be boycotted along with the specific brands and the companies need to be contacted and informed as to why this is happening. Don't think for a second these companies care about anything but sales, if they did, this issue wouldn't be. So it's important that they are not only hurt where it counts - sales - but informed on why. Otherwise, they will simply assume sales are down because people don't want organic products - which isn't true...

Comments from the Organic Consumers Association are as follows:  
It's time to boycott the companies whose dirty money confused and scared millions of California voters into voting No on Prop 37. But there a many companies on the boycott list, which may mean that you are having trouble remembering which brands are on the boycott.

Well, we have a solution to that! We have put together a handy wallet sized boycott guide. If you would like to get your hands on a g
uide, you can follow the link below to request a free 10 pack. That is one guide for you, and 9 to share with your friends and family!

Request 10 free wallet sized boycott guides here:

You can also download and print a wallet sized boycott guide here:

If you want more than 10 wallet sized boycott guides, or if you want a poster sized boycott guide, please email campaigns@organicconsumers.org

More on the Household Notebook, Plus Free Printables

Since I've started to build my household notebook, I've been looking everywhere for tips and tricks on making it better! I have a feeling I'll never really be done with this!

But here's some ideas for you and some links for free printouts!

My Notebook is broken up in to 5 sections:
  • Everyday Needs
    ~Daily Routines
    ~Chore Lists
    ~Important & Emergency Phone Numbers
    ~Lending List (who borrowed what)
  • Finances & Budget
    ~Monthly Budget
    ~Ebay Sales Records
    ~Business Expenses
    ~Work Related Expenses
    ~Utility Account Information
    ~Bank Account Information
    ~Insurance Policies
    ~Owners Papers for Major Items (copies)
  • Food Related
    ~Cupboard Organization
    ~Shopping Lists
    ~Menu Planning
    ~Favorite Products
    ~Canning & Preserving Lists
  • House & Home
    ~Holiday & Party Planning
    ~Cleaner Recipes
    ~Monthly / Yearly Checklists
    ~Gardening Plans
  • Personal
    ~Insurance Cards & Info
    ~SSN Cards, Birth Certs (copies)
    ~Marriage License
    ~Medical Records
    ~Vaccine Exemptions
You get the idea... I'm a perfectionist, so this is just the beginning. I'm sure I'll be adding things every other week now... That's just how I am!  It would be much bigger but for the fact that I already have binders for all my food recipes, herbal & home remedies, homemade cleaners, vaccine research and information and all my natural living research... Yeah, I have a lot of binders - and that's not including all my witchy binders! lol

Anyways, here are some pages I've found that have free printables and downloads for you. Even if you prefer not to use theirs, they may give you some ideas!

And I'm sure you can find more if you look!  But these should give you a good start...

Farmageddon Documentary: Watch Free

Americans’ right to access fresh, healthy foods of their choice is under attack. Farmageddon tells the story of small, family farms that were providing safe, healthy foods to their communities and were forced to stop, sometimes through violent action, by agents of misguided government bureaucracies, and seeks to figure out why.

Producer Kristin Canty’s film, Farmageddon, documents as her quest to find healthy food for her four children turns into an educational journey to discover why she is denied the freedom to select the foods of her choice from the producer of her choice.

The movie tells the story of small, family farmers providing safe, healthy foods to their communities who were forced to stop, often through violent action, by agents of misguided government bureaucracies.  The movie succinctly poses and addresses the question “why is this happening in 21st century America?”

Evoking both sympathy and anger for those farmers violently shut down by overzealous government policy and regulators, Farmageddon stresses the urgency of food freedom.  Though the film deals with intense scenes and dramatic situations, the overall tone is optimistic, encouraging farmers and consumers alike to take action to preserve individuals’ rights to access food of their choice and farmers’ rights to produce these foods.

The following video is currently posted on YouTube. However, due to copyright laws may be removed at any time. If the video is no longer working please notify me that I may remove it from this post! DVD copies are available through the links below.  Thank You!

Introduction copied from: http://farmageddonmovie.com/film/

Teething Ointment

While "boo-boo" salve was one of the first things I made, Teething Tincture was one of the first things I used. I bought a bottle of Chamomile tincture at a local shop and loved it! Since then I've made a batch for each kid. But today, I found this "Teething Ointment" online and thought I just had to pass it on! I think I would still add some Chamomile to the mix, but as with anything else, you can personalize these things as you see fit... Clove is great for teething though, so even without the Chamomile, this looks like it would be a great alcohol free teething option!

Get the Recipe:  http://www.modernalternativemama.com/blog/2012/02/27/monday-health-wellness-homemade-teething-cream/#.UNB6tPm9uSo

Homemade Antiseptic Ointment

By the time I got to the point where I was attempting to learn about natural health and healing I already had two boys. I would say they were around 2 and 3 at the time. So while there were lots of recipes for homemade this and that out there, the first one I really wanted was a "boo boo" salve. Since then I have made a few different versions of this, but this is one of the better ones I've found.

They are all basically made the same way. Melt your beeswax & carrier oils together and stir in your essential oils, pour in to containers and allow to cool... It really is easy. You can use quite a few different essential oil blends, but the ones listed in this recipe are great for your first batch! As you become more familiar with essential oils and herbs, you will no doubt get to the point where you are perfecting your own versions. Personally I like to use a Calendula Infused Almond Oil when making mine. You an also add 1tsp of Raw Honey* to the mix to help speed healing and aid the protective layer!
**The Ancient Egyptians used to coat deep wounds and healing surgical incisions with honey to aid healing.

Get the recipe here:

The Yoga Garden Game

What a great way to introduce children to yoga but to make it fun? This game is great for kids of all ages and can help even the youngest yogis learn some of the more basic poses.  And if mom is just learning to master the poses, it makes things even more fun!

The yoga positions in this cooperative board game are named after animals and objects found in nature. Children use their imaginations while learning different poses.

The objective of The Yoga Garden Game is to plant a flower garden before night falls. As players move the bumblebee marker around the board they learn classic yoga poses, as well as have the chance to make up their own.

Monday, December 17, 2012

The People have Spoken!

If you haven't seen the news yet, the Westboro Baptist Church has announced that they plan to picket the funeral services of those children who were killed in the Sandy Hook School Shooting... These people are so disgusting even the KKK has taken notice and vowed to stand up against their hate. And seriously, you know there's something wrong when the KKK is screaming "You're to hateful!"

Since their announcement numerous petitions have been created on the Whitehouse.gov's petition site urging the president/congress and anyone else who may have the power to remove the WBC's standing as a religious organization and officially label them a "hate group."  Now, there are many many petitions on this site, but only those who earn 25,000 signatures or more ever gain notice from officials. These petitions have earned THOUSANDS of signatures above and beyond that threshold and will undoubtedly earn notice!  One petition earned over 150,000 signatures in just 3 days! Another broke the 25,000 signatures goal in less than 24 hours!

I would say that even if the group doesn't lose their tax exempt status, something will have to be done on a large scale to protect people from them and groups like them.

Check out the petitions here -

Legally recognize Westboro Baptist Church as a hate group.

Revoke the tax exempt status of the Westboro Baptist Church & re-classify Westboro Baptist Church as a hate group.

Remove the Westboro Baptist Church's 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status, and make it retroactive.

There is also a petition to attempt to make picketing funerals illegal. While it does not directly name the WBC, it is their continued appearance at the funerals of lost children and soldiers that has prompted it. However, if such a law were put in to place it would not stop JUST the WBC but all groups from targeting grieving families and friends...

Make Petitioning Funerals Illegal

Making Gel Air Fresheners

I made these over the weekend and love the way they make my house smell! I did mine in a citrus smell, mixing Lemon Grass and Sweet Orange Oils. But you can use whatever scents you like! Since this was the first time I made them, I focused just on getting it right, rather than making them pretty. But now that I have it down, I'm going to think of ways to make it prettier... I have some fish bowls I'm thinking of using along with some decorative stones. But the point is, they smell good and they're easy to make.

So, here's how.

You will need:
  • Small Jars, Bowls or Vases
  • Unflavored Gelatin
  • Water
  • Essential Oils
  • Food Coloring (optional)

The process couldn't be any easier. If you can make Gelatin, you can make these...

  1. Follow the directions on your Gelatin package - completely dissolving the Gelatin powder in the water. 
  2. Pour in to your containers.  
  3. IF you wish to add food coloring, do so now using a stick or small spoon to stir in color. 
  4. Add 30-40 drops essential oils last.
    **I do NOT recommend stirring in your essential oils, as it will weaken the fragrance - you can't smell the oils on the bottom. But some people like to.
  5. Place in fridge or allow to gel according to directions on Gelatin package.
It's that simple. Once completely gelled, put them through your home. If your jar has a lid or cover, you may want to cover occasionally to help prolong scent.

The Christmas/Yule Spider

 There are a few different folk legends dealing with Christmas/Yule Spiders from the Ukraine and Germany. In Germany, it seems there are many variations on the tale depending on the the religious preference of the person telling the story. But regardless of who is telling the story or what background they have, the connection between Spiders and Tinsel is consistent!

It's also worth mentioning that there is an Australian spider commonly called the "Christmas Tree Spider due to it's markings, but there does NOT seem to be an Australian based version of this story - go figure...

A folk legend version from the Ukraine
There once was a widow, who lived in a small hut. One day a pinecone dropped on the floor and it took root. Her children were excited that they would have a tree for Christmas. All summer long they made plans on how they would decorate the tree. They were very poor, so poor that they did not have anything to decorate the tree with. The widow went to bed on Christmas Eve knowing that the tree would not be decorated. Early on Christmas morning, the woman was awakened by her children. “Mother, mother wake up and see the tree it is beautiful!” The mother arose and saw that during the night a spider had spun a web around the tree. The youngest child opened the window to the first light of Christmas Day. As the shafts of the sun crept along the floor, it touched one of the threads of the spider web and instantly the web was changed into gold and silver. And from that day forward the widow never wanted for anything.
[text copied from Museum of Science and Industry Archives]

A folk legend from Germany and the Ukraine
Once upon a time, long ago, a gentle mother was busily cleaning the house for the most wonderful day of the year…. The day on which the Christ child came to bless the house. Not a speck of dust was left. Even the spiders had been banished from their cozy corner in the ceiling to avoid the housewife’s busy cleaning. They finally fled to the farthest corner of the attic.

T’was the Christmas eve at last! The tree was decorated and waiting for the children to see it. But the poor spiders were frantic, for they could not see the tree, nor be present for the Christ child’s visit. But the oldest and wisest spider suggested that perhaps they could peep through the crack in the door to see him. Silently they crept out of their attic, down the stairs, and across the floor to wait in the crack in the threshold. Suddenly, the door opened a wee bit and quickly the spiders scurried into the room. They must see the tree closely, since their eyes weren’t accustomed to the brightness of the room… so the crept all over the tree, up and down, over every branch and twig and saw every one of the pretty things. At last they satisfied themselves completely of the Christmas tree beauty.

But alas!! Everywhere they went they had left their webs, and when the little Christ child came to bless the house he was dismayed. He loved the little spiders, for they were God’s creatures too, but he knew the mother, who had trimmed the tree for the little children, wouldn’t feel the same, so He touched the webs and they all turned to sparkling, shimmering, silver and gold!

Ever since that time, we have hung tinsel on our Christmas trees, and according to the legend, it has been a custom to include a spider among the decorations on the tree.
[text copied from Kraftmster's Page]

A tale from Germany
If you’ve ever gazed at the beautiful tinsel sparkling on your Christmas Tree and wondered who came up with idea of decorating the tree in this way, wonder no longer. According to German legend, it signifies a Christmas miracle from many years ago.

The day before Christmas, as the small house in Germany underwent its Christmas Eve cleaning, the resident spiders, not wanting to be swept up with the broom, hid in the attic. When nightfall came and all were settled into bed, the spiders crept downstairs. To their amazement, in the middle of the living room was a beautifully decorated Christmas Tree. They were so excited that they ran all over the tree. They scurried up the trunk and leapt from branch to branch. Unfortunately they had left their mark. A gray spider web now covered the whole tree.

When Weihnachtsmann, also known as Father Christmas, arrived he was amused to see the tree covered in spider webs. Now he faced a dilemma. The family would be disappointed to see their beautiful tree all wrapped in the webs, but the spiders were so pleased with their handiwork that he did not have the heart to take it down. What could he do?

He thought and thought and came up with a wonderful solution. He turned all the webs into beautiful shimmering silver strands. When the family awoke on Christmas Morning they ran to the living room and saw their tree sparking and glittering in the morning sun. Their delight was unsurpassed. They had never seen such a beautiful tree. Only the mother knew that a true Christmas miracle had occurred overnight.

From that day on tinsel became a treasured ornament for trees all over the world. Those who know the legend make sure that they give thanks to the industrious spiders by hanging a beautiful silver or gold spider ornament in a prominent location on their tree.
[Text from Essortment]

Another Tale from Germany
Another story comes from Germany about spiders and Christmas trees. Long ago families allowed their animals to come inside and view the Christmas trees on Christmas Eve. Because the Christ Child was born in a stable, they felt that the animals should take part in the Christmas celebration. But spiders weren’t allowed because housewives didn’t want cobwebs all over everything. of course the spiders were unhappy about this, so one year they complained to the Christ Child. He felt sorry for them and decided that late at night He would let them in to see the trees. The excited spiders loved the Christmas trees and all night long they crawled about in the branches, leaving them covered with webs. On Christmas morning the housewives saw what the spiders had done. But instead of being angry, they were delighted. For in the night the Christ Child had turned all of the cobwebs into sparkling tinsel. And even today, tinsel is often used to decorate Christmas trees to add that same sparkle the Christ Child gave the cobwebs long ago, in Germany.
[text from The Holiday Spot]

Happy Birthday Madeline

I can not believe how fast time flies! My baby girl is no longer a baby! Miss Madeline turns 2 today! Wow! What a big girl!

36 Infants Dead...

A confidential GlaxoSmithKline document recently leaked to the press exposed that within a two-year period, a total of 36 infants died after receiving the 6-in-1 vaccine, Infanrix Hexa. According to the website Initiative Citoyenne who reported the news, the 1271 page document revealed that GlaxoSmithKline received a total of 1,742 reports of adverse reactions between October 23, 2009, and October 22, 2011, including 503 serious adverse reactions and 36 deaths...  (Read Full Article)

Growing your own moss

I love Moss Art!

Learn How - http://www.apartmenttherapy.com/how-to-grow-you-119033

Mini Survival Kit

Being prepared is much easier when you can fit everything you need in your purse or diaperbag - or even your pocket. I mean, a 72-hour bag is great, but you can't take it everywhere you go, especially if you have kids!

This is a wonderful - and easy to do - option!

Click to Enlarge

Full version available at:  http://eliwilliamson.com/vcs/node/12

Friday, December 14, 2012

Expert Pediatrician Exposes Vaccine Myths

The video below is part 1 of 11 in an audio interview with Dr. Larry Palevsky about vaccines. For the following videos please visit YouTube or follow the link under the video for more information.

Dr. Larry Palevsky is a board-certified pediatrician trained at the New York School of Medicine, and one of the leading physicians in the country who, from my view, is actually able to compellingly and convincingly provide sound, rational, scientific justification as to why you need to seriously reconsider the wisdom of choosing vaccines as an option to prevent against most diseases. 

For more of this interview please visit:  https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL63BA6F4C1F7422EA
Or for more information visit:  http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2009/11/14/expert-pediatrician-exposes-vaccine-myths.aspx

Common Cloth Diaper Myths - Busted

When I mention to people that I cloth diaper my kids I hear a list of excuses and reasons why they could never imagine doing cloth...  Rarely do I hear a reason that makes much sense... So here we go...

1. There is NO WAY I'm dunking and rinsing a poop filled diaper in the toilet!
If you're going to be a parent, your going to have to come to terms with poop, pee and quite a few other body fluids, functions and grossities! There simply isn't any way around it. But I'll be honest, the idea of dunking anything in the toilet grosses me out as well. Good news here is, you don't ever need to do it!
Fun Fact: Disposable Diapers should be emptied in to the toilet before being thrown away! The packaging notes a warning that states diapers need to be emptied before disposal. It's illegal to throw human waste in a landfill. Do most parents even know this? No. And less actually do it, but it is in fact the way it SHOULD be!
It's true that cloth diapers need to be emptied and rinsed... However it's not nearly as bad as it seems to be. There have been huge strides in the cloth market which have made diaper care easy and virtually mess proof. Heavy soil can simply be shaken in to the toilet and "Diaper Sprayers" easily attach to your toilet so that rinsing takes less time and you don't ever have to touch the toilet! If you're still squeamish, some moms keep a pair of latex or rubber gloves on the back of the toilet. Slip them on and you are free to wash, rinse and clean with no worries.

There are also those parents who do not rinse them at all. Personally, I wouldn't do this, but if you're washing every 2-3 days like you should be, it's not really a big deal, I guess... If you're using a diaper service though, they won't expect you to rinse, just toss and go, they will take care of everything.

2. Diaper Pins are dangerous! They can come open and hurt my baby!
This is not completely a myth, diaper pins are pins and have been known to stab babies and mommies. Which is why most cloth users rarely, if ever, use them. IF you choose to use flat or prefold diapers you have the option of using "Snappis" or other fasteners that replace the need pins of any kind.

If you're using diaper wraps or diaper shells with liners you don't need to worry about closures at all. The outer shell or wraps have snaps or Velcro closures that will keep everything where it needs to be.

3. Cloth Diapers STINK!
Okay, here's the thing, diapers stink - PERIOD! I don't care if you're using cloth or not. But in my own experience, cloth don't smell nearly as bad. Disposable diapers are chalked full of chemicals that, in my opinion, tend to make them smell bad before they are dirty. Once they become wet or soiled they somehow tend to magnify the funk. And since disposable diapers are doomed to sit in your trash til the weekly pick up, they add up much more than cloth does. Once they are tossed out in the outside can the heat magnifies the odor and attract flies and other insects which bring with them their own odor...

Cloth diapers on the other hand are both chemical free and do not collect the way disposables do. Plus, since you should rinse them out, and they are kept in a diaper pail, there is rarely any offensive odor! If you choose to go more than 3 days without washing (not recommended) you could begin to notice an odor as your pail over fills, however, again, if you're washing in a timely manner, this isn't an issue.

To further reduce the smell you can purchase a pail liner. They are water proof and washable, so you just lift it out and throw it in the wash with the diapers. You can also put baking soda and/or Tea Tree Oil in the bottom of the pail as that helps reduce the smell as well.

4. Disposables keep babies drier, so they are better for baby.
This is partly true. Disposables do wick moisture away from the babies skin and do keep them feeling drier. But drier isn't always better. Sure, you don't want them sitting in moisture, but the truth is because disposables make baby feel dry longer they get changed less often. This means infants are sitting in their dirty diaper longer. Since disposables aren't as breathable as cloth feeling dry or not the skin is being exposed to moisture. Plus disposables are chalk full of fragrances & other chemicals that can cause both infection and irritation - even chemical burns for those babies with sensitive skin.
Fun Fact: Many diapers contain Sodium Polyacrulate. SP is used in diapers because it absorbs up to 100 times it's weight in liquid. However the FDA banned the use of Sodium Polyacrulate in menstrual products because of it's link to Toxic Shock Syndrome.
 In fact the number of diaper rashes has climbed exponentially since the introduction of disposable diapers. An article published in the Journal of Pediatrics in 1959, before the introduction of disposable diapers, stated that only 7.1% of babies studied (1505 babies, Tanino, 1959) had experienced diaper rash. A similar study in 1987, a little over 20 years from the introduction of disposables, showed that 63% of those studied (1050 babies, Gaunder & Plummer, 1987) experienced diaper rash. More recently, in 2005, as cloth makes it's comeback, showed that at least half of babies will experience diaper rash.

5. Disposable Diapers are cleaner, Cloth leaks!
Here's the thing... Any diaper which is exposed to a large amount of fluid (or other filling) quicker than it can absorb or in greater amounts than it can absorb it is going to leak. Depending on the type of diaper, cloth can actually have LESS leaks than disposables.

This is because cloth diapers will better fit to the baby than disposables do. Disposables are sized by weights, but each baby is going to have a different shape. Some are tall and thin, others short and round and others will fall in to different categories. While a size 3 disposable diaper is a size 3 disposable diaper and isn't going to be adjustable beyond what they feel is proper sizing they don't tend to fit every baby right. For babies like my daughter with a small waist and big thighs a diaper that properly fits her waist is to tight for her legs, but to keep it large enough to fit her thighs without pinching or chafing completely opens her waist to leaks...

Cloth diapers on the other hand are able to be fitted to your babies needs. Today most covers have gussets around the legs or if you use flat or pre-fold diapers you can purchase fitted covers to go over them. And when diapers fit better they leak less...

 6. Cloth Diapers Are Bulky
Okay, I'm sorry, but this one always makes me laugh...  Does it really matter if your babies butt looks a little bigger than the other babies butts? Have you ever seen a baby in a stroller and thought, "Hmm, someone needs to hit the gym. She should be in 6month clothes, not 9!"  Really?  Here's how I see it. If their clothes don't fit perfectly, but their pants a size larger and lean to hem the legs. Is a bulky baby butt really an issue to worry about?

Plus, when babies are learning to walk they fall on their butt A LOT! So an extra layer of padding isn't really a bad thing.

7. Cloth isn't sterile.
Okay, this is true. But it's worth noting that disposable diapers aren't sterile either. They come from dirty factories and sit on dirty store shelves until you take them home. They are not individually shrink wrapped nor are they sold in sealed bulk packaging, so you don't even know what kind of germs, fungus and bacteria they could have been exposed to before you put them on your baby.
Cloth, of course, isn't sterile either, but since YOU wash them in YOUR washer, and YOU dry them in YOUR drier or in your yard, YOU are in complete control of what your diapers may or may not exposed to.

8. Cloth Diapers Spread Illness and are Unsanitary.
This one really goes hand in hand with the Sterile one. However it's flawed in it's assumption that diapers, underwear or any clothing are in fact sanitary. But diapers spread illness no more than any other layer of clothing and in fact less than things like shoes and coats which we wear over and over again between washings.

It is true however that diapers, and any other clothing, should be extra clean in the case of a stomach flu or other infectious illness. But washing diapers in HOT water and making sure to dry them in the sun or in a HOT dryer will kill off any germs able to cause an outbreak. If you are terribly worried about killing germs you can add any number of things such as a table spoon of bleach or a few drops of Tea Tree Oil to the wash.

However, if your family is spreading the flu back and fourth the culprit is generally NOT diapers! It's more often than not commonly touched surfaces, hand towels which are not properly cleaned or not cleaned often enough, or people not covering their mouths when they sneeze or cough.

9. Cloth is EXPENSIVE, I simply can't afford it!
This is my favorite myth to bust! If you go out and spend $1000 on top of the line designer cloth diapers with your child's name embroidered on the butt, you will still save money in the end!

IF you purchase store brand or generic diapers you will pay AT LEAST $0.12 each diaper. Now, that seems low! I realize that! But lets do some math...  The average baby will go through a minimum of 6 diapers a day... So that becomes a MINIMUM of $.80 a day when the are newborns. All the way up to $.20 per diaper, 10 changings a day which works out to be about $1.20 a day for toddlers... And remember, that's with generic or store brands - which you have to change much more often, so to be safe, add at least another 50% to those numbers... All that means your paying a MINIMUM of $5.60 a week in the beginning and a MINIMUM of $8.40 a week later on... When my oldest was in diapers I used Parent's Choice. They were (and still are from what I see) the cheapest disposable on the market! I spent an average of $30 to $45 a month on diapers. Which by itself is $720 to $1080 on diapers in 24 months...  Of course if you decide to use brand name diapers - which most people prefer, you'll most likely double that. But to that price let's add wipes and diaper cream (since diaper rash is rather common with disposables) and you're easily going to spend much more on disposables than on cloth!

My daughter has been in cloth - and only cloth - since birth. She is now 8months old. So what's the total I've put in to diapers? $200! What's the total I've put in to wipes? $20 Plus my water and sewage bills have gone up about $5/mo (total) since her birth. So again, lets add this up... Over 24 months I will put in less than $350. And the diapers I use are on the "expensive" side. You could easily use pre-folds or flats with a water proof liner and spend less than $200 to stock everything. Or you can make your own. Or you can get them second hand from any number of websites...

So put it all together and here's what you get - Add up what you spend for cloth diapers, wipes and washing and you'll still save HUGE over disposables!

10. There is to much extra laundry.
Is washing laundry harder than tossing a diaper in the trash? Yep. But is it really harder to do an extra load of laundry every 3 days? Personally, I don't believe so! Think of it this way, does it take you more time to go to the store, buy diapers & wipes and take out the trash than it does to toss a load of diapers in the machine? I have to go all the way down stairs to use the machine and it doesn't take me any time at all... The hardest part is folding them, and there are those days when it just doesn't get done and they sit clean and dry in the basket next to the bed where I change my daughter... But it's the same place I used to leave the pack of disposables sit when I used them...

And when your car breaks down and you are running low on diapers you'll be thankful you can just wash rather than have to find a ride to the market to buy more!

*Originally Posted on my Blog, The Natural Life, which has since closed.

The Storey of Sinterklaas & Black Pete

I love when the Holiday's role around and I have a new excuse for researching and learning the old traditions, stories and mythologies associated with them. I've found that while most people THINK they know the holidays, the truth is so much more fascinating than the popular stories we tell kids today!

Today, I was doing some research and reading on a precursor to our Santa Claus, named Sinterklaas and his side kick Black Pete.  Personally, I think Sinterklaas is MUCH more interesting than Santa!

Mixes, Mixes & Mixes!

When you have a busy family, you don't always have time to cook from scratch. Lets face it, it takes longer to do things right. But with a little preparation you can easily have homemade versions of "boxed" mixes on hand to cook with.

Here are some great "make ahead" mixes for Brownie, Pancake, Cornbread and More...

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Seasons of Transition

I found this on Pinterest the other day. With Solstice coming we are getting ready to enter the "next stage" of the Seasonal Cycle. Although for my own personal practice I tend to draw the line for "seasons"on the Major Sabbats rather than the Minor ones, this still gives a great picture of the cycle and all it represents. So just rotate the dates a little bit and it's nearly perfect...

Here's the original Post -

Kids Room Organisation

Who's got kids who just can't ever seem to keep their room clean? Are you holding your arm in the air? I am! My boys are 5 & 6 and have a very small bedroom. So when you factor in a large toy box, two dressers, their TV and their beds, there really just isn't enough room for a "mess" too. So getting, and keeping, their room organized is not only very important, but hugely important! Now, I'm lucky, my boys are going to be moving up to the attic soon and they will have a lot more room up there. But if we can get some of our organizational tools put in to practice before they move up there, it will make for a much easier move and a much cleaner room once they do have the extra room...

Here are some awesome ideas that just about any parent can create in their child's (or their own) room!

This blog actually has a few posts on organizing children's rooms, so I'm putting them all here, you don't want to miss ANY of the information!

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