I am unfamiliar with this method of cake making

When I make a cake, I usually do the “cream butter and sugar, add eggs, add dry ingredients and bake”

I am unfamiliar with this “dump everything in and beat the hell out of it” method. I honestly am befuddled.  What if I over mix it? What if the butter doesn’t integrate? (which is what happened, actually)

We are headed to London next week (what? I know!) and since I’m obsessed with the Great British Bake Off  …


(sidenote: Paul Hollywood is officially on my short list of men who I would not kick out of bed for eating cookies … especially if he baked them.  It’s a very short list so Paul really should be honored- and he should send me cookies.. wait… where was I?  right. GBBO)

…I thought I should bake a proper English treat before we head across the pond.

Victoria Sandwich. That’s the ticket.

I really am not a fan of buttercream (and also it really needs to sit overnight for it to be smooth) so I went with Mary Berry’s Perfect Victoria Sandwich, which has whipped cream instead of buttercream.


Can we talk about Mary Berry for a minute?  I adore her. She’s sassy and yet super polite and I’m going to start a cookie eating game. Every time she say “layers” you get to shove a palmier in your face.   “Soggy Bottom” wins you a big glass of cold milk to slam back.  WHOLE MILK, because we live large in this house.

Anyway…

The recipe says to break 4 eggs into a bowl and then dump everything else in.  Which I did.  But it killed me to do it.  I also think the butter should have been… well I should have broken it up a bit because I ended up with pockets of butter in the batter… but I was so worried that I would over work it.  Because, cake.

Victoria Sponge - from Mary Berry

Victoria Sponge – from Mary Berry

It looks pretty good. The edges are a little greasy and the middle sunk a bit and I had to make my own self rising (raising?) flour which is totally not a big deal but that method… I’m just befuddled.  I really think that next time, I’m going to go back to the method I know in cake making. I just… I feel like this isn’t quite right.

The Finished Victoria Sandwich

The Finished Victoria Sandwich

It was really tasty but I think I over-baked it. It want rising like I had expected and the middle really did sink in a bit. I was worried that it was raw in the middle. Because it was dense, it didn’t spring back like I had expected. I just fulled that with jam (yassss more jam)

ALL OF THE JAM FOREVER

I am probably going to do very little sharing of London on my social media so look for a photo dump after we get back. I’m going to make it a goal to try a real Victoria Sandwich!

Sometimes I’m really dumb about plants

Recently, LB and I were in Lowes looking for a houseplant and stumbled upon this really cool looking cactus.  It was purple and at first, I was like “is this fake”? and then I thought about the cactus I had at home with a purple flower on top and I thought, well… maybe they hybridized it until it was all purple!

So we brought it home and potted it.

 

The Kosmic Kactus

I thought it was cool.. and then I looked at the side of the original pot and it said something along the lines of “this cactus was sprayed with a non-toxic color coating”.

What?

I looked closer.

OMG they sprayed this poor thing with paint.

I was mortified for two reasons. One… this poor, poor plant…. and two… that I had put money in the hands of a company that did this to plants.

Ugh.
And then I thought about my cactus with the purple flower on the top.

You guys. It was glued on.

HOT GLUED ON.

Hot glued on!

These are everlasting dried flowers glued on. For fucks sake.
So I cut them off.

Free at Last!

This cactus is doing much better now.

And so is the purple cactus… because I’ve been misting it with water and taking an orange stick (those are those wooden sticks they sell to push your cuticles back) and gentle removing the paint.

Can you believe this shit? Aesthetics over the health of the plant.

But isn’t that kind of the way our culture looks at everything? As long as it looks good, who cares how healthy it is? Sheesh.. now I’m into a rant and I don’t feel like ranting today.

Anyway, I still feel a little stupid about buying that plant. But I’m glad I did because it’s turning into a lovely creature.

After all this time – a new Stu Fuch’s album

You guys.. I’m so excited!  You remember way back when I met Stu Fuchs at Old Songs and had a transcendental experience?  You don’t?   Ok.. let me  refresh your memory.  Did you go read that?  Ok, good..  You didn’t?  Fine.. be like that.  Here.. have the video.

He’s the guy on the didgeridoo that you can barely see.

Oh and he’s also this guy

And… well. this guy

Stu is a multi-instrumentalist but I know him for his ukulele playing and I try not to miss a chance to see him live. He’s funny, charming and engaging  and now that I’ve slammed you with videos, I want to tell you about his new album and how you can get it and help him make it. I can’t tell you how much I enjoy his first album “Stukulele”

Well, here.. go listen to some clips.

Stu has brought an amazing amount of joy and appreciation for making music to my life. After spending a week with him learning his Zen Method to making music, I can tell you that he has truly changed my approach for the better.  I’m sure his new album will be spectacular, soulful and fun.   Here, let him tell you all about it.

Stu’s campaign is on Indiegogo.com and the album will be made if he meets his goal or not.   For a $15.00 contribution, you can get the mp3 album before it’s released.  That’s pretty awesome because honestly, that’s what you’d pay to buy it anyway…

Right now, Stu is about 1/4 of the way there and I’d love it if you would consider backing his album.

Follow the linky loo.

Inside Out Carrot Cake Cookies

I haven’t been writing much lately because I’ve been busy over on my Tarot Site having a good time and I’ve been wanting to share my progress in dealing with my social and general anxiety (which is AMAZING, by the way) but I’m going to give you just a little snippet today because I need to tell you about these cookies.  These are Inside Out Carrot Cake Cookies and I’ve been making them for years.  And I love them.

I needed something to bring to a Community Kirtan that my friend David told me about.  Two years ago, I never would have considered going to a new place with new people where I knew only one person.   Never would have happened… and although I call David my friend, we really don’t know each other that well, but he’s one of a growing number of people that I hug as a greeting so…  yeah. Friends. And I went and I didn’t explode or freak out when I got lost or hide in a corner the whole time.  I actually ended up doing tarot readings for 5 people!  I had a lot of fun. I probably won’t go again because although it was lovely, it’s not really my thing.

I decided on these cookies because I’m always looking for a reason to make this deliciousness.   There are some important things left out of this recipe, in my opinion. Which is why I’m posting it here with my revisions.

You will make a better cookie if your eggs and butter are at room temperature.   Before we became refrigeration nuts, humans used to keep eggs and butter on the counter.  And to tell the truth, I still keep my butter out.  I refrigerate my eggs because commercial eggs are washed.  If they come right from the chicken, they have a protective barrier to prevent spoilage.

But yeah, take them out of the fridge a few hours ahead and thank me later.

The other thing is the original recipe tells you to beat your butter, sugar and eggs all together at once.

Don’t do that.

Cream the butter and sugar together.  This is where that room temp thing comes in handy.    King Arthur Flour has a great post on this so I’m not going to reinvent the wheel here.

After you cream the butter and sugar, then add your eggs one at a time and mix until fully incorporated

Another thing is the original recipe says it makes 13 cookies.

It lies.

It makes 6 cookies filled with cream cheese and one lonesome half cookie that has no idea what to do with itself except to be a delivery device for any leftover filling … of which there will be none. So, I double it.

So, here it is.   The Inside Out Carrot Cake Cookie Recipe for your next pot luck or emotional eating party.

 

Inside Out Carrot Cake Cookies
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • 2¼ cups all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons of cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 2 sticks of room temperature unsalted butter (1 cup)
  • ⅔ cup plus ¼ cup packed brown sugar
  • ⅔ cup plus ¼ cup white sugar
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla (get the good stuff)
  • 4 medium carrots, coarsely grated (about two cups)
  • 2 cups of walnuts, chopped
  • 1 cup of raisins
  • 16 ounces of cream cheese, room temp
  • ¼ cup of wildflower honey
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees
  2. Line baking sheets with parchment paper (I used 6 sheets total. If you don't have that many, you will need to cool them off before baking a new sheet of cookies)
  3. Whisk together flour, cinnamon, baking soda and salt
  4. Cream butter and both sugars together until light and fluffy
  5. Incorporate eggs, one at a time until fully combined
  6. Mix in the carrots, walnuts and raisins
  7. Add the flour mixture and stir until combined.
  8. Drop cookies by 1½ tablespoons about two inches apart and bake, turning halfway through for 16-18 minutes. They will spread.
  9. Allow to cool on the sheet for one minute and then transfer to a cooling rack.
  10. While cookies are baking, combine cream cheese and honey until smooth.
  11. When cookies are completely cool, sandwich two cookies together with a big glob of filling.

 

How to Choose your First Tarot Deck

Choosing your first tarot deck can be a daunting task.  There are SO MANY out there and it seems like every day, someone is making a new one.   When I got my first deck, it was 1987-ish and the internet wasn’t born yet.  I lived in a rural area and my access to anything other than Waldenbooks was very limited.  Now, anyone can easily design a deck, have it printed, and market it.  AMAZING.

I didn’t even choose my first deck.  It was a Christmas gift when I was a teenager and I’m embarrassed to say that I don’t remember if it came from my mom or my grandmother.  One of the two, anyway.

My first deck was the Mythic Tarot which is loosely based on the Rider-Waite-Smith deck (RWS).  The Mythic Tarot takes it’s inspiration from Mythology which is pretty cool, but also very specific to those stories.  Many of the cards are similar in imagery to the RWS, but not in meaning.   The book was very detailed into things like “this bird symbolizes Zeus… and this Devil is actually Pan… oh and this lady here?  this is Persephone.”  Cool, but difficult to read if you try to shoehorn the images and symbolism into modern day life. It can be done, for sure, but it requires a LOT of memorization.

The Mythic Tarot: the Devil, The Heirophant and the Chariot.

 

The Mythic Tarot: Ace of Pentacles, Six of Swords, Five of Wands and Eight of Cups

As you can see from these images, they are pretty specific to individual personas.  There is Persephone there in the Eight of Cups.  Yes, her leaving the physical word behind and moving into the darkness does sort of mirror the idea of the Eight of Cups so that’s good.   Poseidon is the Ace of Pentacles, which I personally find confusing because Pentacles is traditionally the Earth Element and Poseidon lives in the water.. but sure.. bursting forth with new energy.. ok.  The Six of Swords here is Orestes who I know nothing about.. and the Five of Wands is Jason’s battle with the Dragon over the Golden Fleece so, yeah, it’s a fight.

But, basically, there is too much here for a beginner, in my opinion.

Seriously Consider the Rider Waite Smith in the Yellow Box

The RWS (unless you read Thoth) is what a lot of decks are based off and the beauty of the RWS deck is that it lends itself to an intuitive interpretation.  The cards evoke an emotion and a feeling and provide a lot of detail to explore so you don’t have to learn something by rote.

Rider Waite Smith

Rider Waite Smith

See how the Five of Wands is evoking an emotion of conflict among people?  And the Six of Swords feels like a family leaving the choppy waters headed towards smoother sailing?  (Yes, the Ace is hard to get an emotion from.. I know.. but you have keywords to fall back on to kick your intuition into gear ~ it’s a good idea to know the “traditional meanings” but don’t be limited by them.  Think of it like the drugs that were prescribed for depression also work for smoking cessation.  They were intended for one thing but also work for another..  follow me?)

A word on intuition:  if you want to be a tarot reader  it really benefits you to work with your intuition. It gets your left brain out of the way and opens you up to the message from the Universe. The Tarot is a TOOL to facilitate your connection to the Information Highway. (and it’s not as old as people claim.. at least not as a divination tool)

The RWS is a great place to start.  The other thing is that a LOT of books, teachers and websites reference it.  If you will be looking for support from others, it’s good to have a working knowledge of this artwork. Also, I can’t help it.  The wands look like giant penises to me.  They just do.  Take a look at the Ace of Wands and then tell me I’m wrong.

Look at a lot of decks to find artwork that appeals to you

I don’t enjoy the RWS artwork and I really don’t like the overt Christian overtones.  I think it’s super important to find artwork that appeals to you.  It’s difficult to find the message in the card when you don’t like looking at it.  I actually got rid of my first RWS deck because I just couldn’t read with it.  (I have since purchased a new one to work with for study only.  But I have no intention on reading with it)

The deck I worked with for YEARS was the Morgan Greer.  It’s a close up image of the RWS artwork and it’s borderless, which I enjoy.

Morgan Greer

Morgan Greer

But still, lots of Christian overtones.  Since the explosion of Tarot interest, I’ve had some great opportunities to get decks that are still RWS based but with a twist.

Modern SpellCasters Tarot

Modern SpellCasters

Check out the Chariot!  Talk about moving forward without really knowing where you are going… but doing it anyway.  And there are more Alchemical symbols here and the deck has more of a magickal feel to it. Which is intentional since it’s meant to also work Magick.  And the Eight of Cups has a slightly different vibe to it. I also love this deck because many of the images show people of different colors, sizes, races and sexual identities.

Modern images for modern times can sometimes read easier.

This is my newest deck for my collection and it totally updates the images.  This is the Everyday Witch Tarot and I’m really digging how easy this is to read.   You may not feel that all of these images are modern (cloaks, cauldrons etc) but they are a lovely mix of Modern images and NeoPagan Traditions.  This deck just sings to me because of this mash up.  I suspect there is a modern deck out there for you that fits your path.  (Some of us do have actual magick brooms and wands and cauldrons in our homes.)

Everyday Witch Tarot

Everyday Witch Tarot

New Readers should probably avoid decks with pips

Tarot was a game, originally.  If you go back to before the RWS deck, you will find the Visconti Deck  named after the family that had the cards.  See, paper was expensive so only rich people had decks and only rich people had time for actual games.   I picked up this mini deck at the J.P. Morgan Library gift shop, where you can view three of the original Tarot cards from this deck.

I don’t read with it.

Visconti Deck

Pips Only.. you can’t even really tell the swords from the wands

These decks don’t give you anything to work with other than numbers.  That’s more than half your deck that you would need to memorize meanings for.  Not an easy task and not really an intuitive task either.

Probably steer away from Novelty Cards/Promotional Material for your first deck.

Have you seen Penny Dreadful? Vanessa has a beautiful deck that was made just for the show.

I own it.  I don’t read from it.

Penny Dreadful Tarot

Penny Dreadful Tarot

It’s amazing but limited in it’s ability to spark intuition. Also, all the minor cards 2-10 are pip cards. Nope. Just really neat to have it and look at it. (And I will admit that I’m currently waiting for my Twin Peaks Tarot deck to ship and I probably won’t read from that one either).

Which brings me to..

Probably best to avoid highly stylized/non-human decks to start.

There are some great non-human decks out that that probably read just fine.  But they can be hard to read for beginners and can feel a bit off putting to friends you may want to read for as practice.  Let’s face it. Some people still think the Tarot is Evil with the Capital E.  I adore my Deviant Moon deck but I’ve only used it once in a reading for a client because.. well… look at it.

Deviant Moon Tarot

Deviant Moon Tarot

The only time I used it for a client was when they made a point of telling me they identify as non-binary and most decks are well.. Binary.   And actually a lot of decks are very…. white.. and straight.  Many of the images in the Deviant Moon deck are not gender specific.  (I admit, I didn’t pick the best cards to demonstrate this but I was rolling with a theme)

Where do you go from here?

I think the best thing you can do is to get your eyes on some decks before you decide.  Some great places to look at decks before you buy are:

  • Your local metaphysical shop: Sometimes the owners will have decks open for you to look at. This is fantastic!  But buy your deck there, ok?  Don’t fondle the merch and then get a deal online.  Spend the extra bucks to support your local seller.
  • Aeclectic Tarot :  An astonishing number of decks with a good sampling of each card in each deck.  Plus reviews from actual readers.
  • YouTube:  A google search for YouTube Tarot Reviews will get you a ton of hits and a lot of folks will show you every single card.  You will also get a lot of info about things that might be important to you like, card stock or boxes or the book that comes with it.
  • Amazon reviews:  lots of readers will put pictures of the cards in their reviews and are not shy about sharing their thoughts. (which reminds me.. I have a few reviews to do)
  • Other readers:  Opinions are like assholes.  We all have one.  What I think about a particular deck may be very different than what your friend and favorite reader thinks. Ask us. We LOVE to talk about our decks.

It is impossible to buy the “wrong” deck.

Truly.  Every deck will tell you something about yourself.  It will help you find what you are comfortable with and what you aren’t comfortable with.  Discomfort is educating in and of itself.  If you outgrow your deck or decide you don’t want to read from the one you bought, there is a healthy market out there for second hand decks.   Many of us pooh pooh the idea that you shouldn’t read a used deck.  If you really want to unload a deck you don’t like, someone will buy it.

What it really comes down to is this…

Buy the deck that speaks to you .. and if it doesn’t speak to you in six months, that’s ok too..  See, people evolve.  What you like today, you may not like tomorrow.  And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.  Your time with the Tarot will change your perspective on things..  on people.. and on yourself.

Right Words and Write Words

I had decided that 2017 was going to be the “year of doing” instead of the “year of thinking”. Because every year up until now has been the year of thinking.

Basically, I live in my head.

I read a crap ton of stuff and say “oh.. that’s interesting.  That could really enhance my life”

And then I put the book down and forget about it.  Seriously.  No integration what so ever.

But I talk a good game for sure. I  have notebooks that I carry with me… and sometimes leave them on my desk at work for days.  I get my best ideas at work.. or in the shower.  I write down ideas as I think of them in my handy notebook.

 

The irony here is not lost on me.

I have always had an obsession with paper products, notebooks, pens and the like.

I got these on sale for a dollar each and I had grand plans for these, boy did I ever.

 

Each one of these was going to be a sort of workbook for my magick correspondences.  (I’m totally back into magick after years away.. more on that later.. and yes that “k” belongs there)

The green one was going to be for herbs and the purple one was for crystals and the blue for tarot study… or maybe it was the other way around. But it doesn’t matter because I opened one up and was overwhelmed with “where do I start?”

So then I had this idea that I would use loose leaf paper, so I bought some of that.. because, hey! I can’t screw up the order there, right? Just move the pages around!

But then I couldn’t read my handwriting.

So I started a blog to just catalog my tarot work (I’m working through Mary K. Greens 21 Ways to Read a Tarot Card) and also for my correspondences! Perfect!  (you can’t find it.. don’t even try. It’s on a private installation of WordPress.. which took me days to set up to make pretty)

And then I ignored it.

I take avoidance of actually doing things to a new level. Seriously, if it was an Olympic Sport, I would totally take Gold… but then, I probably wouldn’t because I’d put off signing up.

Sensing a theme?

Me too.

So I took a few minutes on my commute to sort of mentally explore what my issue with committing pen to paper, to putting words someplace, to doing a thing.  ANYTHING and sticking with it.

And I remembered my previous efforts to journal.

See these?

These are my journals.  You know what they all have in common?

Torn out pages.  Yup.. they are essentially blank

I’d journal for a while and put it down and when I went back to it, I’d read what I wrote and I would be horrified.  I’d be embarrassed at how silly or trivial things were. I didn’t enjoy looking at back at myself.  I’d be… well.

Ashamed of the person I was.

OUCH.  That was a tough one to pull out.

Funny things, words.   You know what really got me thinking about this was a SuperGirl episode (tip: Season two is…  clunky.  But there are a few gems)

It was the Valentine’s Day Episode (barf) but it had Mxyzptlk in it so I had to watch it.  (SPOILERS AHEAD). SuperGirl gets Mxyzptlk to “say” his name backwards, thus banishing him back to the 5th dimension by having him type it out in Kryptonian …..  um.. look.. if you can’t keep up with this geekiness, just go Google it and come back…  Basically, she took what J’onn said eariler in the episode which is that on some planets, to write something down is to truly say it…

To write something down is to truly say it

Words on paper are the real thing. They capture a moment and not to be too glib but, really, that moment is gone before you’ve even finished writing, but they snag that moment and lock it down… you can’t pretend it never existed.  It’s right there. Black and white.. refusing to be ignored and forgotten.

That is some scary shit, you guys.

When I first read about the Buddhist concept of “right speech” I was intrigued because how can Buddhists have something that is “right or wrong”.. it’s that sort of the anti-zen?

But what is really meant by right speech is “kind speech” or “mindful speech”.   And here is the kicker.  According to Tricycle:

The teaching about Right Speech assumes imperfection.  Our “mistakes” are a vital part of our learning.  We need to lie, exaggerate, embellish, use harsh and aggressive speech, engage in useless banter, and speak at inappropriate times, in order to experience how using speech in these ways creates tension in the body, agitation in the mind, and remorse in the heart.  We also discover how unskillful speech degrades personal relationships and diminishes the possibility of peace in our world

Tension in the body. CHECK.

Agitation in the mind?  YOU BETCHA

Remorse in the heart?  LAWD YASS

It’s time to start being kind to myself again.  Time to get over myself and accept that I’m not perfect dammit and that growth is a process and it’s time to right the words and write the words and accept the imperfections.