Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Relaxing before the New Year

Good Morning,
I freshened up the blog layout and design today... It seemed like it was time. I think I am on holiday overload from doing X-mas arrangements since October at work.

The Shabby Cottage theme appeals to me on many levels. I suppose it's because it looks fresh and new. I have blogged about a Witch's Cottage before, and I will confess that the relaxed style of shabby chic decorating and a cottage/ antique look just makes me smile. It always has- hence my book Cottage Witchery.

There is something so right about making your home into an enchanting sanctuary. No matter where you live- or what your budget. You just need creativity and a touch of magick. This book will show you how to do that and so much more. Oh, and yes, the book is available on Kindle.

I also updated the lunar information for 2012 for my "Full Moon Magick" online class. So that updated class has its lunar info all ready to go for 2012. Also if you order any of my online classes before February 2nd, I will include a free Imbolc Spell. This Moon Magick mini-class is a very affordable little online course.

The Full Moon Magick class fee is only $22.00 dollars. You can check out all of my budget- savvy online classes and sign up for one on my website www.ellendugan.com
Just click on the Online Classes tab at the top of the page. The payment is made through Paypal. Which is simple, and secure.

This is the time of year when we want to snuggle up at home by the fire with some hot chocolate, and unwind from the holiday craziness and just be cozy. So indulge yourself. Enjoy the lull before the next round of parties and celebrations and think of all of the enchanting possibilities waiting for you in the coming new year.

Blessed be, Ellen

Monday, December 19, 2011

This Witch Can Cook!

Well, the holidays are upon us and the winter solstice is only a few days away... I actually had the day off yesterday and I spent it in the kitchen baking up a storm.  I broke out the cute apron I bought at BBCMS in Birmingham this fall when I was there doing an author event for Practical Protection Magick. The apron is black and orange with lace and silly ball fringe. Embroidered on it is two crossed brooms, a witch hat and the phrase, "This Witch Can Cook!" 

That bib apron is so 1950's retro and silly that it appeals to my sense of humor. I think it's the ball fringe around the bottom that got me... how can you not smile at that?

First on my baking list was cranberry orange bread and banana nut bread. I bake these in mini tins and give them as gifts to my family every year. Its an inexpensive way to give a thoughtful gift, and my relatives look forward to my baking gift boxes every year.
Also, I think that there is something so festive about cranberry orange bread. And as the orange is aligned to the Sun I always feel it is appropriate at this time of year. There is nothing like adding a little fresh orange zest and some cranberries to your basic quick bread batter.
Banana nut bread I just have a thing for... ever since I stayed at a B&B in Salem Massachusetts several years ago. The Salem Inn used to serve it for breakfast with fresh fruit. I just experimented at home with a basic recipe and doctored it up until I had one my whole family liked.

There is one cookie I typically make only at Yuletide- Jam thumbprint cookies. I tried this recipe for the first time because well, I am a Barefoot Contessa fan. I saw these on her cooking show and thought... That looks good. This year I made them with both apricot and blackberry jam. I think they look like little suns, don't you?
For the recipe follow this link to the Food network website. www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/jam-thumbprint-cookies-recipe/index.html
I will warn you now... these are some dangerous cookies! Besides the fact that they have almost a pound of butter in them- they are some of the tastiest shortbread cookies I have ever baked.  So I make them, enjoy one while they are warm, and freeze them immediately so I don't end up eating them all before the holidays. These cookies have become a family favorite.

I did not get around to wrapping my presents yesterday, as I spent hours in the kitchen instead. I'm going to work on that chore this morning. In the peace and quiet with NO football on the television. I like football and enjoyed watching the Patriots smack down the Broncos yesterday... But sheesh. It's the football on all damn day- that really gets to me.

I don't have to go in to work until this afternoon today, so my master plan for the morning includes brewing up some tea, cranking up my iPod and hitting the "Yule" playlist and wrapping gifts listening to my favorite holiday tunes.
Enjoy your week and the coming holidays everyone!
Blessed be, Ellen

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Tis the Season! Or The Designer of Witchery

Good Morning,
With the full moon on Saturday and Yule just around the corner my coven is coming to my house to celebrate the Esbat and Yule this weekend. So, The Hubs and I have been working on our holiday decor and it's now all finished just in time for this weekend's kickoff to the holiday gatherings with the coven.

Here is something simple anyone can do in their home. I took two matted and framed Briar, Yule Greeting cards, hung them on the wall, and then added those peel and stick wall embellishments.
We have a couple of new things we are trying this year for our indoor decor- like the new mantle and some fun LED lighted branches... And folks always seem surprised at our lavish decorations for the winter solstice... There is a reason folks accuse me of being a cross between Samantha Stevens and Martha Stewart.

Kyle's Cardinals Baseball tree-2011
First off I am a floral designer- so any excuse to "design" and I'm off and running... I have a glue-gun don't make me use it!  When friends and relatives ask for my help with their own holiday decor- I am always tickled to dive in.
Which is why my adult children's friends are blown away by their apartments and their own trees at the holidays. I did put together a Cardinal baseball tree for my son Kyle. As promised here is a picture of his tree in his apartment. We even found little ornaments that look like old fashioned lights that have the Cardinals logo on them. The "Tree skirt" is the Rally Towel that Kyle got when he and his brother went to the final playoff game that sent the Cards to the World series this year...

Meanwhile back at the Garden Witch's house... the mantle in our living room got a makeover this year. I wanted gold and glitz and something more Pagan themed and the Hubs wanted pine cones and natural. Then I found a fabulous garland with long needle pine, acorns and gold dusted pine cones and sparkly oak leaves... Sort of an Oak King theme! And best of all it was 60 percent off! So I added another plain garland to it to beef it up, wrapped in some lights, and ta-da! new mantle for the holidays.

The Yule tree in the living room is all decked out with its red glittery bow and big sun for the tree topper.. Here is a shot of the living room at my house all done up for Yuletide. We use a slim-line tree in our living room- it saves space stays far enough away from the wood stove and we can still load it up with ornaments.
Ellen's living room at Yuletide
The fall kitchen curtains are down and my regular curtains are back in place- So, here are a few pictures of our kitchen... and yes- if there is a shelf- I decorate it.
The big kitchen window's garland (To the right) is all red ornaments and lights and a few gold and red bows.
The little shelf (just below) is full of my more witchy theme holiday tins and collectibles and silk holly, ivy and poinsettias. 
At the current time there are five decorated trees in my house. The large one in the living room, the 4 foot table top in the family room, the 3 foot at the end of the hall and a tiny one in the guest room and a celestial mini tree in the master bedroom. Here is the little celestial tree.
Ellen's mini Celestial tree

'Tis the season! Go forth and decorate! Add something enchanting to your home for the Yuletide season and enjoy yourself. Hope you enjoyed the pictures and that they gave you some ideas to add to the Yuletide decorations at your own abode.
Blessed be, Ellen

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Snarky or Scrooge?

Well, the tree is up and trimmed out for the winter solstice, the mantle is decorated and to complete our day of Yuletide festivities- last night the Hubs and I went to a local University's production of A Christmas Carol. 

Oh my, perhaps I am more of a purist than I thought...  I should have known when I thumbed through the Playbill and saw the directors note that listed they had "adapted and changed" the play... that it would be different. It was very different. And for a bunch of reasons... it kind of ticked me off.

Yeah, yeah community theater... and the children cast in any roles seemed to be pretty good, so were the actors playing Bob and his family. But there was some badly over acted parts... and I kept wishing for the amazing Patrick Stewart as Scrooge in the made for television version of A Christmas Carol... and damn but I missed him terribly.

Ghost of Christmas Past and Patrick Stewart as Scrooge
In the, er.... interesting version we saw last night. The Ghost of Christmas Past kept aging... weird. She started as a little girl, then a woman, then finally an old Crone who was loudly gasping for breath... Then she dramatically wheezed and died on the stage...  Thud and she was dead.
Okay, that was different.

But hang on a second- It's supposed to be the Ghost of Christmas Present that ages... and I almost lost it when the Ghost of Christmas Present came out and was a woman with a Jamaican accent.

To be fair she was a lovely black woman in a red cape and a bonnet and she was a fair actor... but the audience as one went, "Huh?". And I just could not wrap my mind around the deviation from the original story. That, and I LOVE the traditional Holly King/Ghost of Christmas Present... I was so disappointed not to see him.

And maybe I'm turning into a purist when it comes to plays and a classic like A Christmas Carol. So did we enjoy the play? Kind of. Was it fun to go out and do something to get in the spirit of the Holidays? Absolutely.

I have nothing but respect for the actors and the crew of the production... however I think that that grad student/director should not have messed with the classics. They are called the classics for a reason you know.

At least it gave us plenty to chuckle about on the way home. "Ay mon." Said the Jamaican Ghost of Christmas Present.... Oh I really don't think so.

Maybe I'm being too snarky... or maybe I'm just a Scrooge when it comes to directors messing with the classics.
Blessed be, Ellen