Rainy Day Crafting

It’s been raining and grey since yesterday afternoon. I was feeling kind of  blah, so I made a fairy house. I didn’t do a step by step on this. Sorry.  I really just kind of rolled with it. IMG_20160412_150213

Inspired

Today’s post was inspired in equal parts, by a visit to a friend’s house, and by another Word Press blogger. Reading her blog has been a huge inspiration to me just in the short time I have been blogging. If you haven’t already found her, please take time to check out the awesome project that Creatingmyspaceblog has going on.

I have always loved crafting and recycling. I love taking something that would have ended up in a landfill, and finding a new use for it. In our yard, you will find evidence of this all around.

Empty wine bottles used as decorative sun catchers, old motorcycle tires as planters, and most recently, yard spinners made from drink cans. Our friend had a couple of these hanging from a tree branch. I had to adapt them slightly to work in my yard.

For this project you will need two empty drink cans, a wire coat hanger, a hammer, one large nail,  a utility knife, scissors, pliers, a Sharpie, and tape. I also used wire cutters, but you could just use the scissors.

The very first thing you want to do is rinse your cans out thoroughly and let them dry. I took the tabs off because my son wants to do another craft with those.

Then  take the hammer and nail and make holes in the bottom of each one. Next you want to make your marks. I marked in two different places on the top of each. Next, make equidistant lines from the bottom of the can with the lower mark, up to the mark.

You could be ultra precise and measure, but I just free handed it. Now run tape around the bottom of the can with the vertical marks. This will serve as a guide line later.  I forgot this step this time and had to go back. Carefully use the utility knife to cut the top off of both cans on the marks.

Then, using scissors, carefully cut the vertical lines down to your tape. Bend the strips down.

Now, take the can without the strips cut and make small notches around the top. This will help you bend it in to fit inside the other one. Trim the sharp edges off the strips, bend all of them at a slight angle and put this down on the other can, to check the fit. You may have a little bending on the base can. As long as it’s minimal, it should be fine.

Now you are going to straighten your coat hanger and shape it. I am using existing, upside down, half buried wine bottles as the support for mine, so I made a loop on on end. On the other end I used the pliers to bend the wire back and forth to break off the weird end. If you want yours hanging, shape the hook to hang it and make a ninety degree bend. You want to make this bend however long your cans are plus about three or four inches from the straight end. Take the cans apart and slide them onto the bent part. Put them back together.

I wasn’t able to get pictures of the next part. After your can spinner is on the wire, put back together and spins freely, take the pliers and hold the very end of the wire and make a curl by twisting the wire around.  Then use tape in front of and behind the can, wrapping the wire. A few wraps in each place is enough. Just make sure you leave your can some wiggle room.

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This keeps the spinner from getting hung on the wire at the bends. (See my lovely neighbor’s house… On a related note, be watching for a future post that will be titled something like “Good fences make good neighbors”)

Now, hang it or stick it in the ground and enjoy. Aside from looking awesome when the wind blows, they lend a new voice to the chorus of wind chimes and bird song.

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See mine in action :

Friday Fun Day

This supermoon brought a depth I never expected. Yesterday did not go as I had planned. At all. But that is ok. Better than ok actually.

Yesterday, my mind was blank. I felt scatter brained and unfocused. No matter what I did, I couldn’t snap out of it. So I dived deep into that blank space, and I found something I did not expect. I found the reasons behind my intentions.

This is known as shadow work, working with your shadow self. Going boldly into those dark places, accepting yourself fully, or working to correct those flaws that you find that you cannot accept.

So how does all that tie into the title? Simple. I have been so focused on moving forward, that I forgot to stop and enjoy the moment. Having goals, intentions, and ambitions are all great. Wonderful even. But if you don’t take time right now to enjoy life, then those goals, intentions, and ambitions are empty.

So, in that spirit, today I’m going to have fun. What do I find fun? Being a crafty little witch, of course. I am making smudging fans today. The fact that I already have three is irrelevant.

Over the course of the past year of keeping backyard chickens, I have collected the feathers that they drop. I have a lot. First, I cleaned them in warm, soapy water. I added about half a cup of rubbing alcohol. This sanitizes them. *Another sanitizing trick for feathers is 5 parts warm water, 1 part vinegar, and 1 part witch hazel. Let them soak over night. If you get feathers from a craft store you can skip this part.

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Then, I rinsed them and spread them out to dry.

IMG_20160408_112351While waiting for them to dry I gathered up the other stuff.

Ribbon

Embroidery floss

Craft sticks

Sharpie

Tape

Beads

Small rubber bands

glue

Yarn* optional

Scissors

Thread

Needle

IMG_20160408_120240I selected a three feathers to start. Next I secured them with a couple of rubber bands. Then, I added more feathers to the bundle by sticking them in the rubber band, until it had the fullness I wanted.

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With the Sharpie, I wrote intentions on the sticks. Then, I sandwiched the feather bundle between them and secured with tape.

I selected blue ribbon, tied it off at the top, wrapped it clockwise around the sticks all the way to the bottom and tied it off.

I cut about eighteen inches of the thread, and threaded it double on the needle. I made one small knot in the end. Then I started by going under and up through the ribbon with the needle. Pulled it through and the knot is hidden. Then I beaded. Three beads at a time, repeating the under and up, in between. Another knot at the end, and one more under and up and snip the end.

I selected white embroidery floss and tied it off and then wrapped it in a pattern around the part of the handle that I beaded. This caused my ribbon to shift. I ended up using just a dab of glue to secure it.

And there you have it. A new smudging fan. Here’s a shot of it on my altar.IMG_20160408_130507

 

(The jawbones you see, I found in the woods, and bleached for about two weeks. I did NOT harm any animal.)

I will make a couple more, probably as gifts. Here is my whole collection and the topic of my next post: smoke cleansing/smudging bundles.IMG_20160408_131250

 

Never Fear, Super Moon Is Here.

Wait, what? Oh, Supermoon. The moon’s perigee. Gotcha. This time it is referring to a new moon perigee, or supermoon. Since it is a new moon, we won’t see it, but we very well could feel it.

In my practice as a modern witch, new moons are times of beginnings. Now is a great time to work on creative ventures and gardening. This is also a good time to start a self improvement project, a new beauty regimen, or work on relationships or begin romances.

They are also widely known as belonging to the dark goddesses. Hecate, Morrigan, and Kali, to name just a few. Don’t let the term dark goddess turn you off from reading, they exist to keep the balance. You cannot have light without dark after all.

The typical theme of new moons is abundance, and in our house that means honoring our deities, a fire in the fire pit or cauldron, new moon intentions and abundance check.

I honor my deities with a private ritual in my indoor sacred space. This is one on one time with the deities that I honor. It usually involves a ritual bath, candles and meditation.  The ritual bath will have sea salt and baking soda, along with fragrant herbs. I like to use lemon balm, and Rosemary. Add in a few drops of lavender oil and the scent is calming and clearing. It allows me to have concise communication with divinity. It puts me in the right head space.

Next, we have the new moon fire. It symbolizes the new moon, since the moon is not visible. Once it is burning steady, I write down my intentions for the upcoming cycle. Most of the time I keep this list to three goals. Areas of my life that I would like to see growth and abundance in. I write these down.

Then I take out my check book. I fill out our new moon abundance check. With the list and check in hand, I open the book of secrets. The list and check I’ve just written gets tucked into the book. Out comes the list and check from the previous new moon.

I take these to the fire, and toss them in, often with dried herbs that correspond to my goals and intentions. A household favorite herb that goes into the fire is vervain. The main attributes that I focus on during this ritual are it’s protective qualities. It is known to cleanse and purify as well, among other things. Truthfully, I use more of it than any other herb in my ritual work. It grows wild in my yard. I haven’t even delved into it’s medicinal uses. But that’s a post for another day.

After all the new moon work is done, I make sure the fire is banked and let it burn out. Important note! Our fire pit and my cauldron are both fire safe.This means they can contain the fire. Never leave a flame unattended. Safety first.

New moons are my favorite. I am a natural optimist, and during the dark moon is when I shine. Yeah, it’s dark. But I trust my faith to shine on, and be my light in the dark until the moon returns to keep watch over the night sky. Because this is a supermom, those deep emotions that I associate with the dark of the moon are going to be heightened, and the energy work that I do during this time will be strengthened, magnified.

If you do not practice, you can still use this energy to plant a flower garden that will bloom and grow better, start a new workout routine and stick to it, or make new friendships. Read more about new moons, supermoons and vervain at the links below.

http://earthsky.org/space/what-is-a-supermoon#how-many

http://www.thehoodwitch.com/8-phases-of-the-moon/

http://www.alchemy-works.com/herb_vervain.html

 

Weed or Welcome Friend: Mugwort

This morning the weatherman was giving the pollen count in his forecast. At 1226 it’s not terrible, but what caught my attention was his description. One of the allergens listed was mugwort.

He said it sounded like it was out of Harry Potter, but it’s a real weed. He is not the only person to think just that. Dear Hubby turned to me and asked me what it is because being the resident witch, I should know this. I told him it had both medicinal and magical applications. But then I doubted myself, and I drew a blank, being only halfway through the first cup of coffee.

I grabbed my handy dandy copy of Scott Cunningham’s  Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs,  and happily, I had been correct. A note about that book; it is a wonderful reference filled with lovely information about plants and trees, and their uses in a purely magical ways. It even has information on whether or not you can ingest them, and what side effects that they may cause. Great book, but all of the illustrations are, sadly, in black and white.

Never fear, I can google. So I did and I discovered, much to my chagrin, that for two days I have been systematically ripping this very handy herb up with great contempt. All because it dared to grow in my sacred herb garden. Artemisia vulgaris. Known by it’s leaves which have a light greenish gray underside that is slightly downy, and it’s purple fuzzy stem, this very versatile plant can survive anywhere.

Here is where you picture me, hanging my head in shame, briefly, before heading my happy little witchy ass out in the yard with a bucket and a spade. I dug up the biggest ones I could find and transplanted them into the very same dirt I ripped them out of. Hey, Mother knows best.

As I write this I am sitting in the herb garden. Marigolds have been planted, and I have some basil seeds in my apron pocket that I saved from last year’s basil that is getting planted next, but I digress. As I sit here in the as yet unweeded portion of the garden, I am surrounded by more mugwort.

I have eight plants that I transplanted, so all of this other will have to go. This stuff is all over our two acres, but it all gets mowed pretty regularly. If it were not mowed it could get as tall as 6 feet in a season. I guess we will see.

It is perennial and in some places considered to be a noxious weed, meaning it has become so invasive that it’s against the law to plant it.

For my part, the fact that this herb grows freely and in abundance around my home is both blessing and curse. Blessing, because I love medicinal herbs, and curse, because it grows every where. Now that I know what it is, I am loathe to waste it, even a little of it.

I went ahead and harvested a small amount. I intend to dry it and burn it on charcoal for certain ritual work, not sure which yet, most likely for Lammas. For more information on this herb, check out the links below.

 

Mugwort: A Magical Plant

http://www.witchipedia.com/herb:mugwort

http://www.healthline.com/health/mugwort-weed-with-potential

 

 

Preparation and Planting.

I started clearing out weeds in my herb garden yesterday. I was not very good last year and didn’t take care of the problem properly. That means that the root systems are well established.

This is what we call a lesson learned. The very hard way. I wrestled, pulled, clawed, and raked. By the end of the work day today I had half of the blasted thing done. Hopefully, I will be able to finish it tomorrow.

Now near in bear in mind, I did not work sun up to sun down on it. Yesterday was very leisurely, and today was split between gardening, housework and houseplant love.

I spent a couple of hours in the herb garden. Then, I repotted some houseplants. My coffee plant and aloe had outgrown their pots. A couple of others needed separating. Everything got a good dose of sunlight on the porch this afternoon. Tomorrow, they will get food and more sunlight. I brought them all in for the night though, it’s still very cool in the early morning hours.

Yesterday I soaked some moon flower and morning glory seeds. They got planted today and I am growing them in pots this year. It’s an experiment. Much like the ” Let’s not take all the weeds out of the herb garden” experiment, hopefully with better results. There are also now four little pots that will hopefully have forget me nots coming up in a few days.

Tomorrow I will be planting some marigolds. I love marigolds and they are incredibly easy to grow. Bonus, you buy marigold seeds once and you can have them forever. Just harvest the seeds when the blooms dry up. I did this last year and have more marigold seeds than I have pots for. I might end up sowing a marigold border around my veggie garden this year. Extra bonus, they repel mosquitoes.

I love Spring, have I mentioned that? We are going to be planting the garden this week and next week. Starting all from seeds this year. Dear Hubby is going to be tilling the spot tomorrow, then I get to put all those lovely seeds in the ground. The last few years, we have bought tomato and pepper plants, so it will be fun to watch them from seed to harvest.

 

If We Were Having Coffee…

If you came by my place on a Saturday morning, I would pour you up a cup of coffee in one of our novelty mugs. No, really, that Nascar mug suits you. I would offer you some eggs and toast.

After breakfast, we would take our mugs of hazelnut coffee into the back yard. Sitting in the swing, we would listen to the birds, and the wind chimes.

You would feel the peace and tranquility that I am blessed to find on this small plot of land. As we sipped, and talked, you would eventually ask me about my garden.

You would almost have to, since after a couple of cups of joe, that’s where I land, especially when the sun is shining. What? Are you laughing at my floppy gardening hat? It keeps the freckles off my face.

At this point, I would toss you a pair of gardening gloves. I think, in light of your amusement over my hat, you should wear the purple, polka dots. Yeah, now we are even.

That? Oh, that’s just an earthworm. He is a welcome guest. But that grub worm there…we feed him to the chickens.

After a couple of hours, being the awesome hostess that I am, I’m going to pour you a glass of sweet tea. Then we will sit on the swing and feel proud, and dirty, and happy.

Before you go, I will push a dozen farm fresh eggs into your hands, as a thank you for your company and your help. I am also going to tell you to come around again sometime when you can stay longer. That’s just how we do things in the South.