Monday, March 2, 2015

DIY Firestarters

With many of us still having "fireplace days" and the weather soon to warm up so we can start having outdoor fun around our bonfires and chimineas, I thought you might be interested in these easy DIY fire-starters, made out of stuff you would probably throw away anyhow.  They make a great addition to your kindling to get that fire going.



Start saving up those toilet paper tubes, these are so easy, and they actually look kind of pretty, so they'll be nice even if you have guests over.  I have mine sitting on the hearth of my fireplace.  Without further adieu, here's how to make them.
All you need is dryer lint, empty toilet paper tubes, and leftover tissue paper.
Every time you empty your lint screen from your dryer, shove it into a toilet paper roll.  I just put my TP tubes in the laundry room so they're right there. 
Start saving up those TP rolls, by the time it's warm enough to have fires outside, you'll have loads!  Dryer lint is extremely flammable, so these will really flame up.  But, they look kind of gross....here's my solution to that.
Don't toss that leftover tissue paper from gift bags!
Cut the sheets of tissue into quarters and roll the lint filled TP rolls up in the tissue paper.
Twist the ends like a piece of candy or a British Christmas cracker! 
If you want to, you could tie them off using a bit of raffia, leftover yarn, cotton kite string,  I just left mine twisted, but it's up to you, just make sure whatever you use is natural and will burn and not melt.
Taa-daa! A couple of these mixed in with your kindling will help get your fire started whether in the fireplace or outside, man, I'm ready for some bonfires, come on spring!

I hope you enjoyed these fun and easy DIY fire starters, give them a try!

Blessed Be!
Mickie

Friday, February 27, 2015

The Dress...Why the Question "What Color is It?" IS Actually Important

Why the debate over the color of a dress is important might just surprise you.

Coincidentally last night I fell asleep watching Episode 1 of "Brain Games" on Netflix. If you want to understand this dress phenomenon, watch it, seriously.  When I woke up this morning to the viral photo of #thedress that asked the question, "What color is this dress?"  on the morning news, (really?!?) I recognized the conundrum immediately.  As I learned last night right before I fell asleep, our brains take in information from our senses and judge it based upon what it knows about the world.  In the case of knowing what color something is, it factors in things like what it perceives to be lighting situations and can adjust accordingly.  The photograph of "the dress" in question has a lot of back-lighting, which our brains know can sometimes make the item appear darker than it is, whites can appear to be blue in shadow and golds take on a much darker color. Your eye couldn't tell your brain if it was lit more brightly from the front or from the back, hence the confusion.  Some people saw the dress actually change color before their eyes, did it really change? No, but that person's mind was questioning what it was seeing and waffling on the conclusion because there wasn't enough information.  What does all this mean about us?  Read on...

Why You Should Care
So who cares? What does it really matter in the great scheme of things? It's just a stupid dress. Oh....it matters. It matters a lot. Why it matters might come as a surprise.

We seem to have a problem, we humans of the world.  We see something and make a knee jerk decision on it, a decision that may or may not be correct, but it's based solely on our own perception which we always trust in. The truth is, this was not a great photo, our minds didn't have enough information to judge what color the dress was based upon this photo.  But even though that is true, most people decided empirically based upon this one photo when they were in fact making a decision on what color the dress looked to them in the photograph, not the color of the actual dress in person. I saw most people's responses were, "The dress is black and blue!" or "The dress is white and gold!" The photograph IS NOT the dress...it's a photo OF the dress, which is actually tricking the eye.

Where were the people saying, "I might need to see a different photo to be sure." or, "It looks gold and white to me in this photograph," Which would have been a true statement of fact because it only refers to your own perception which may or may not be correct.  Since so many people had different view points, that would be the logical response. We based our "blue and black" or "white and gold" statements that we believed to be totally true on one bad photo. How many judgments do we make in life with similar bad source information?

If the human race can't even agree on a simple question of what color something is,  it's easy to see why so many factions of the human race can't see eye to eye because we only know the world from our own view point which as we learned from this crazy dress might need more information.

How many times a day do you suppose that happens?  Do we see a quote or statement written on a photo and decide its true?  Do we really understand what we think we do about the challenges ahead of us in world? Do we ever yearn to dig deeper and get more information?  Do we know the difference between perception and fact? Our brains can be fooled by input, the dress proved it.  This accidental experiment proved no matter what color you saw the dress to be, that we need to look at our own perceptions about the world around us, and as we do, we need to ask ourselves these questions if we are ever to evolve as individuals and as humanity.  Perception can be a tricky thing, without all the information our own perception can deceive us.

We must try to widen our perception so that we can gain more information before making snap judgments, we just must! If we don't, then we will continue to allow ourselves to be uninformed, or worse yet, misinformed. There's a very old fable about a group of men who are visually impaired and try to learn about an elephant only through the sense of touch.  They could do this successfully if the ran their hands over the entire elephant, but instead they each touch just one part of the elephant and then argue over their different perceptions, which to them are all correct.

The man who touched the trunk thought the elephant is like a snake. To the man who touched the ear, the elephant is like a swatch of leather. To the man who touched the tusk, an elephant is like a spear. To the man who touched the side, the elephant is like a wall. To the man who touched the tail, an elephant is like a rope. All would pass a polygraph test because they all believe they are right, but unless you touch the whole elephant you have no idea what an elephant is like.

So What Color is the Dress?

Since the photo was in question by so many people with totally polarized views we need to find more evidence, don't we? The designer must be over the moon with all the great publicity...

While it is blue and black, there was no right or wrong answer to how it looked in that other photo, it looked different to different people, the only way ton know for sure, was to get more information.
Why was that photo so tricky. even through the dress had a ton of back-light behind it, the dress also had a lot of light on it, perhaps from the camera flash or another source because it washed out the black and blue bringing in to question to the viewers mind whether or not it was in light or shadow.

Clearly after seeing a good clear photograph with no weird lighting of the actual dress we can discern that the dress is in face, blue and black, although it's a totally different shade of blue that it looked like in the photo, so in a very real sense, we were all wrong if we only based our opinion on one photo.  But we were also all right, but only right when we told people how the dress appeared to us, not what the dress actually looked like.

Let's add this crazy heated discussion over the color of a dress to our life experience and learn something from it.  Start to pay more attention to perception vs reality. Ask yourself if you can make a good judgement based on the evidence you actually have or weather on not you should do a little more research. Yes, this was silly on the surface, but if we look deeper we can use the debate as a catalyst to deepen our human experience by learning new ways to look at things.

Blessings,
Mickie Mueller






Friday, February 13, 2015

Tsu is Cool... No Need to Show Me the Money

Upon my frustration with Facebook, head games, their aggressive "real name" policy which has forcefully outed lots of my Pagan, transgendered, and transexual friends. Here's why their new "real name" policy has really hurt some of my friends. Now they have new policies that are keeping posts from showing up in the feed of  artists, etsy shop owners, authors, musicians and other small entrepreneurs unless they purchase sponsored ads. Here's an article about that. I began looking for something new, I'm still on Facebook and trying to make it work for me, but I don't believe in putting all your eggs in one basket.  That's when I discovered Tsu. (pronounced soo, the T is silent)  It's clean, pretty, easy to use, they don't mind if I post links to my art or shops, and my friends can use any name they want. 


Tsu encourages people to create their own content (I like!) Tsu is really easy to figure out (bonus!) Tsu doesn't let you right click an image to download to your computer, but you may share it on Tsu and it links back to you, (smart) I really have no complaints at all.  They also have a nice app, free and it works really well.


If you want to come hang out with me at Tsu,  you can use my code to sign up: https://www.tsu.co/mickiemueller
You might hear people complain that it's a scam...here's why, because Tsu shares a small amount of their revenue with it's users.  You earn for posting and getting interaction, etc. but you earn very little, and they don't actually send a check until you get to $100.00. I've been checking it out for a month and I've earned a whopping 7 cents. So what? Who cares? I would gladly be on there for free.  So I got to thinking about it and I decide that if I ever do get a check from Tsu, and I'm not counting on it, I will donate it to the Crohns and Colitis Foundation of America.  



Yep! I really just want to meet nice people, share my art, what's new on my blog, thoughts and photos, if I could opt out of the Tsu earning aspect here, I totally would, but I thought this was a good alternative!

If you want to hang out with me over at Tsu, you can use my code to sign up if you want: https://www.tsu.co/mickiemueller

Blessings,
Mickie

Friday, January 23, 2015

Potions Made of Awesome From Twinkleberry Cottage

I really was excited when I got a package of goodies from my friend Lore of Twinkleberry Cottage on my old wooden art table...

 It was just what I needed to brighten my winter.  My skin gets so dry and her products just soak right in without being greasy so it's perfect while I'm doing art or writing and they smell like pure magic!  I find that having nice things like fancy lotions, scents, ways to pamper yourself a bit really are helpful she you're trying to count calories, points, fat, etc. it's a way to treat yourself that's not food.  I will say her products are really delish for your soul!

When I popped open the box all these fantastic bits and bobs of magical goodness were inside!
Here are a few more of her sweet birds nests...pretty!
I was delighted by this sweet little birds nest ornament, Lore is so talented! I couldn't  bring myself to pack it in with the Yule ornaments, so instead it's going to be a permanent decoration in my studio. 
I wish my blog had smell-o-vision!  Imagine enchantment whirling over a snow bank in a fairy glen...that's what it smells like!

I'm totally addicted to Twinkleberrys Fairy Frosting!  It's such a lovely fluffy cream, it's got just the perfect but of shimmer, soft iridescence not girlie glitter, it's perfect for this grown up fairy! It's a nice treat, I've got several different scents, Water Sprite, Tatiana, and this Snow Queen that she sent is just decadent! Love!

She also included some of her new goats milk lotion, oh wow, that's really nice, silky smooth.  I'm carrying the little bottle of Summerlands lotion in my purse. It's nice to have a little "happy" on the go.
I love getting samples of such nice fancies!
These wax tarts are new,  She sent me some sample packs, her actual products are those nice little squares that you break off. 

Magical Melt Wax Tarts by Twinkleberry Cottage. Scent: Magick Moonspice, Mickie tested, Mickie approved! 
I'm really loving these. I have a wax melt warmer that I love, but I kind of forgot about it and hadn't used it in awhile. I moved it into my living room recently and picked up a pack of dollar store wax melts, and then these nice Twinkleberry ones arrived and I immediately scraped out the dollar store stuff and put one her her lovely ones in.  There's nothing nicer than handmade products full of love!
Almost melted, Magick Moonspice,  makin' my house smell wonderful!
Awwww, Dan was so happy, prezzies for him!
Even Dan felt special when I handed him a little bag of goodies! Oh Wow! She has dude scents too!! All I ever have in the house is my lady scented lotions, so Dan was pretty excited with her new Huntsman Collection! He loved them all, right now he's going back and forth between Alchemy and Steampunk Nights. Mmmmmmm Steampunk Nights! 

If you would like to drop in at Twinkleberry Cottage and see what she's brewing up, here's where to find my friend Lore and her amazing magical goods: https://www.etsy.com/shop/TwinkleberryCottage

Her stuff is all handmade and she's actually brewing up some fresh new magic even as I'm writing this, so if you don't see what you're looking for, keep checking back as she adds new items... trust me, her lovely handcrafted products are worth it, I'll never go to Bath & Bodyworks again!

Also follow her on Facebook to see when she's got some new wonderful invention to pamper your magical spirit: https://www.facebook.com/TwinkleberryMagic

Blessed Be!
Mickie Mueller 

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Spring Came Early Today!

Spring burst out of my mailbox today in the form of Llewellyn's new Sabbat Essentials book, Ostara by Kerri Conner.  It's -1 degree Celsius here at my little country home of Aelfheim, and the trash can was at the end of the long, long, driveway. I didn't wanna go get it.  But I bundled up and while I was down there at the end of the drive I checked the mail. There was a white plastic envelope with what felt like two little books inside, the name on the return address was Llewellyn Worldwide! Warm happiness and excitement filled my heart and my cold little hands as I danced back up to drop off the can and run in the house...I was pretty sure I knew what was inside, and I was right! Here it is right on my old wooden art table.  My illustrator copies of Llewellyn's Sabbat Essentials Ostara book written by Kerri Conner, interior illustrations by little ole me. Yeeeee!!!!
This gorgeous cover art by Kevin R. Brown inspired me so much while doing the illustrations.  This is just the pretties little book, I love the look and the feel of it, this is the kind of book that you just want on your shelf, or on your coffee table during the season of Ostara.  I created illustrations for this entire series, a big job, but what an honor!

Seeing my decorative border for the introduction next to this decorative page of  cursive writing with inspiring Ostara key words made my heart just sing. The design of this book is brilliant!
I re-invented the wheel, Wheel of the Year, that is.  I love that they have the wheel for both the northern and southern hemisphere, wrapping my head around it made my brain hurt, but they've got it all worked out, so you don't have to. 
Each book will have a chapter for Old Ways and New Ways.  The illustrated chapter openers will follow the same old world witch's enchanted gate and a modern  witch's welcoming home with  magical curb appeal as they change through the seasons. 
One of my favorite Ostara crafts that Kerri came up with for this charming book was the book terrarium, I loved illustrating this one and honestly, can't wait to try making one of my own. 
A few of the chapter openers are the same for all the books while many others change with each seasonal sabbat.  I was really happy with how the Spells and Divination chapter opener turned out.
When will I stop being proud and excited to see my art in print...never, ever, ever!  

This book is just loaded with inspiration for the sabbat of Ostara; spells, rituals, lore, recipes, crafts, correspondences, you name it, it's in there.  I really appreciated getting this little book on my hands on such a cold winter's day, it reminded me not to despair, even though it's bitter cold outside, the sun's rule over the land is growing daily, and spring shall eventually overcome winter's icy hold over the land.  Even though I'm thinking about the upcoming festival of Imbolc in February, this gives me a couple months to get ready for Ostara!  Eight of these charming matching books, I need to pick out just the right bookshelf to display them now...hmmmmm...

Oh, I nearly forgot! If you want to get in on the fun of these lovely books, they're actually available now! Find it at Llewellyn Worldwide, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or check at your local bookstore/metaphysical shop.

Blessed Be!
Mickie Mueller

Monday, January 5, 2015

Getting Healthy After Almost a Year of Pain!

Welp!  Little by little over the past year... I gained some weight. About a turkey's worth of weight. A damned turkey!!

So yeah, lots of my jeans don't fit, but worse than that, I'm not healthy. I've backslid from the good healthy eating habit I had developed while on Weight Watchers several years ago.  In 2010 I lost 21 lbs, felt better than I had in ages, had more energy, and I kept it off for a really long time.  Last winter I sustained two separate long term injuries to my right arm causing me to become much more sedentary.  I ended up with tendonitis in my elbow and then either from misuse or more likely, not enough use of my right arm, I then ended up developing adhesive capsulitis (frozen shoulder) in the same arm.  I was a mess! The constant pain that lasted for months at a time left me feeling a little depressed, sleepless, and I didn't exercise very much and chowed down on lots of comfort food.  I know I'm much healthier if I'm on a lower fat whole grain diet with lots of protein and veggies but the pain clouded good decision making and then I just fell off the wagon.  When I was sticking to my Weight Watchers plan, I had found things that I enjoyed eating and kept me healthy and fit, and about 21 lbs less than I weigh right now.  What a frikking year 2014 was for me.
These are my tried and true yoga DVD's I know what they expect of me, and with my healing injury, I only do what I can manage and I'm in the privacy of my living room. Add my $7.00 yoga mat and a couple yoga blocks, pajama pants and I'm ready to rock.

I've worked very hard to heal my frozen shoulder, For about half of last year my right arm was in constant, and I mean constant pain that was even worse at night.  The pain at night was so bad it disrupted my sleep and there was nothing I could do.  I couldn't raise my arm either.  When I stood with my arms at my side and tried to raise it, I could only move it about a foot away from my body and then it was stuck, just stuck and very painful.  So I applied hot and cold compresses several times throughout the day.  Once I was able to try to unlock the movement I had exercises to do that would help.  Heat, ice, stretches and time are all the medical world can recommend other than surgery or possibly cortisone shots.  The common fact is that it's an injury that can take one to two years to fully heal.  I didn't want to take nsaids for months at a time, so I ended doing a regimen of herbs such as turmeric and ginger to help with the pain and inflammation.

This witchy gal broke out all her tricks!  I used Reiki on the arm constantly, I had a dear couple of friends Blake Octavian Blair and Gwain Nighthawk also do some Shamanic healing sessions and discovered my Power Animal to strengthen my spirit and unlock the lessons surrounding the injury.  I worked magically at the dark moon with the Goddess Hecate to help me find healing and release the darkness hanging over me.  I used Epsom salt and comfrey cream.  I wore a bracelet of amber.  I added a chant to my stretches, "I build strength, I build flexibility, I release pain, I release stiffness." I tried to be as positive as possible, putting a good attitude into the universe.  I even re-trained my brain and left hand and taught myself to use my computer mouse and even draw using my lefty as long as it's not tight detail. Yep, I did that!  I did drown my sorrows in cookies, pizza, and peanut butter sandwiches, but there ya go! Now much of my flexibility is back, in less than a year.  It's not perfect, but it's better that it's been, and I have a plan. 
Egads! Yes, I'm actually sharing this photo. I'm tall, so when you see me you don't think I'm huge or anything, I carry it ok, but this is not a healthy weight for me, time to get back to good habits.

I'm sad about not fitting into my jeans, but the truth is, I want to regain my health, and loosing weight is just a side effect of that.  Sigh, also, I'm going to be 50 in February so I really need to get on the road back to heath.
Yeah, with frozen shoulder I can't fully do this one, but soon I will be. I do try this every time, it's actually a very similar move to one of my frozen shoulder stretches. 

So yoga, that's happening. I'm not an expert, I can't stand on my head and twist like a pretzel, but I was doing a couple of yoga DVD's several times a week at one point and I felt wonderful. I skip or alter any poses that cause pain to my arm, but the stretching at this point is just what I need.

This one is kinda lame looking too when I do it, but I'm getting there. Seriously, when I could fasten my bra in the back after not being able to do it for over 6 months, I was flat out happy!

The stretching feels great, I'm really feeling good about being able to get back to something that makes me so happy.  If I can get the shoulder doing a little bit better, I might even go back to practicing my old Tae Kwon Do forms, but I don't want to rush or strain my right arm too much.

I've discovered that I can play the DVD in my living room and see my reflection in the fireplace to make sure I'm at least getting close to the poses.  See me in there, hi, hi!!  I know, I don't look awful, it's more about health for me.  (yes, and a couple pairs of cute jeans waiting in the wings)

My other plan is to count fat, fiber, and calories.  I know from experience that if I count everything I eat, I tend to eat much healthier.  I can't afford Weight Watchers again I don't even think there's anyplace nearby now that I've moved to the country, but I learned how to do it back when I was a member, the system did work for me, I was seldom hungry, and I lost weight and maintained it. I have some favorites that I remembered, snacks, meals that were healthy and low in points. I also discovered a free app for my phone called iTrackBites that I've been using to keep track of the points every day. Low point foods are low in fat, high in fiber, the foods that tend to make me feel better anyway, so it helps keep me honest with myself. Drink lots of water and tea, healthy oils like olive oil.  I can still have a cookie, but I'm smarter about it and don't eat half a box.
My little healthy post-yoga breakfast, egg beaters on light multi-grain English muffin with a little spread of Laughing Cow cheese and a clementine. Black coffee with a bit of stevia blessed by mighty Hecate.  The art from this mug, over half of it was drawn with my left hand! See it larger here.
Is it all working? I lost a pound since I took that photo of my scale under my cute toenails.  One pound in a week, that's not much, but I'm getting back into the swing of it, and I know I can do it.  The journey of 21 miles begins with a single step...ahem...pound.  Ok, but picture a pound of hamburger, that's gone now, I've gotta think positive! I'll let you know how it's going, I might share a recipe or two along the way. Let's get healthy!!

Blessed Be!
Mickie

Thursday, January 1, 2015

New Years Day Tradition, Pozole

I grew up in Albuquerque New Mexico, and while I'm now firmly transplanted in the Missouri countryside, there are some things that remind me of my childhood home, one of those things is a steaming bowl of pozole on New Years Day! Pozole, or posole (pronounced pah sole ee) is a traditional New Mexican stew made from pork, hominy, and spices that warms the soul.  While many people around the country opt for a meal of indulgence for New Years Eve, often fancier that we eat through most of the year, it's New Years Day when we remember our roots with regional comfort "peasant style" meals.  While many people in Missouri and enjoying black eyed peas and collard greens, my family will be enjoying this New Mexico classic good luck dish.

Last year, I discovered New Years morning that I didn't have any ham, the meat I usually add to the pozole.  I remembered our old next door neighbor Quata, who taught my mom how to cook all things New Mexican.  She told my mom the best meat to use for pozole is whatever you have around. I discovered a pound of spicy pork sausage in the freezer and used that instead of ham.  Quata would have been proud,it was the best pozole I ever made, so I'm sharing that recipe here with you.


Here's a couple of example of the main ingredient, white hominy, or maiz. I usually use three 15.5 oz cans, today 'm adding  an extra 29 oz can since we're having company later, just to bump up the qty a bit.  It's more of an art than a science.
Browning the sausage in my cast iron skillet.
I'm dicing my onions while the sausage cooks...

Sausage goes in the crock pot, then I add the diced onions to the skillet, brown them, and add that to the crock pot as well.
Rotel tomatoes are diced tomatoes with onions and peppers, I use an off brand from Aldi, I also include an extra can of chopped green peppers, delish!
Mincing garlic, feel free to use the jar garlic if you wish.
Toss it all in the pot, stir it up, cook for at least six hours! Easy!  Add some magic, stir clockwise and say a blessing over the pot to bring luck, love, prosperity and health!

Mickie's Easy Magical Crockpot Pozole

Ingredients: (included are the magical correspondences for the ingredients)

1 lb. spicy pork sausage (common pork reminds us of our roots)
1 diced onion (health)
3 15.5 oz cans of white hominy undrained (longevity and abundance)
1 can 10 oz Rotel tomatoes undrained (tomatoes for love and warding off negativity)
1 4 oz can chopped green chilies undrained (vitality and growth)
3 large cloves of garlic, minced (hex breaking, banishing negativity, boosting health)
1/2 package of taco seasoning (made with cayenne and other spices, hex breaking and banishing evil)
salt and pepper to taste (salt for grounding and protection, pepper for banishing evil)

Brown sausage in a skillet and add to the crockpot, then brown the onion in the same pan with the sausage grease. Add the onions to skillet.  Add the remaining ingredients, cover, and cook on low for at least six hours.  Serve hot with optional garnishes of chopped cilantro, lime wedges, extra green peppers, and tortilla chips.


A steaming hot bowl of pozole is a comfort to the soul, and brings good luck on New Years Day that will last all year long!  I wish this computer had smell-o-vision, this is a delight! Enjoy!

Blessed Be!
Mickie

LinkWithin

Related Posts with Thumbnails