My Favorite Yule Treats

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In years past, my mother, grandmother and I would do vast amounts of dainties; from miniature butter tarts to easy as a breeze no-bake cookies, at least 1200 treats graced the tables between Christmas Eve and New Year’s Day. Nothing like homemade butter tarts, trust me! 😉

I promised my girls I wouldn’t do the crazy cooking that the rest of the family does, and would stick to a few of our most favorite. I imagine everyone has these in their cookbooks, but today’s my day to blog, so you’re getting them again. LOL

Peanut Butterscotch Slice

Ingredients:

½ c margarine
1 c peanut butter (smooth or chunky, your choice)
1 pkg Chipits butterscotch baking chips
125g mini colored marshmallows

Directions:

In a large microwave safe container, melt margarine and peanut butter together. Stir in butterscotch chips, returning to microwave for a few seconds if need be. Stir until smooth, then add the marshmallows. Turn out into 5×9 baking dish, cool and slice.

A wonderful variation on this, is switching the butterscotch chips with chocolate chips, and colored marshmallows with plain. We always make a double batch of each!

Cheater Fudge

Ingredients:

1 can Eagle Brand sweetened condensed milk
1 pkg. chocolate chips

Directions:

Melt milk and chocolate chips together, pour into 5×9 baking dish, cool and cut into small squares.

Brown Sugar Cookies

Ingredients:

2 c flour
1 ½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
1/c butter
½ c br. Sugar
1 egg
1 tbsp cream

Directions:

Blend 1 cup flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside. Beat sugar, butter and egg together, slowly blend in cream. Stir in flour mixture, slowly add remaining flour. Chill several hours.

Roll out to ¼” thick, cut with cookie cutters, and back at 375° for approximately 8 minutes. These can be decorated with colored sugar before baking, or iced with royal icing after they’ve cooled.

Traditional Rolled Shortbread

We’ve used these as ‘cakes’ during cakes & ale at our Yule circles.

Ingredients:

1 c butter
1 ¼ brown sugar
2 ½ c flour

Directions:

Mix ingredients together until well blended. Chill for 1 hour, or overnight. Roll out to ¼” thick, cut with cookie cutters. Bake at 300° for 30-35 minutes. These can be decorated with colored sugar, red or green maraschino cherries or pecan halves pre-baking, or iced with royal icing after cooling. We just eat ’em plain!

No-bake Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies

Ingredients:

½ c margarine
2 c sugar
½ c milk
3-4 tbsp cocoa
2 ½ c oatmeal
½ c shredded coconut

Directions:

Bring first four ingredients to a boil, and maintain boil for 2 minutes. Remove from heat, stir in oatmeal and coconut. Immediately spoon onto wax paper using a teaspoon, allow to cool. They should harden while the cool, but if they don’t, carefully place them in the fridge for a half hour.

Woodticks aka Nut n Noodle Drops

See, I always knew these no-bake cookies as Woodticks (actually, these or the oatmeal ones described above were often referred to as Woodticks). It wasn’t until I was much older and asked about Nut n Noodle Drops at a friend’s that I found out most people aren’t so morbid as to name their cookies after a bloodsucking parasite. Oh well, they’re tasty, and the kids’ll love to make ’em!

Ingredients:

1 pkg chocolate chips
½ c peanut butter
2 c chow mein noodles
1 c spanish peanuts

Directions:

Melt chocolate chips and peanut butter in microwave safe bowl (about 2 minutes, but watch it closely!), and stir in noodles and nuts. Drop on wax paper-covered cookie sheet, and allow to cool overnight in the fridge.


Jodi Lee is publisher and editor in chief of Belfire Press and The New Bedlam Project. Her writing has appeared in several recent anthologies as well as magazines on and offline for the past decade. Having shelved her first novel for the time being, she is currently working on two (or three) novels set in the fictional town of New Bedlam.

Interested in some horror for the holidays? Pre-order Courting Morpheus, the anthology set in New Bedlam! Featuring the works of MR Sellars, Camille Alexa and more, the stories explore the insanity that builds as Morpheus is busy elsewhere…

Tell us you read about us here, and we’ll refund your shipping costs!
(Offer only valid until December 21st, 2009)

Christmas Past, Yule Present

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It was less than a week following Samhain, in 2000. My girls were clamoring for the Christmas tree to be put up, and presents to be put under it. Amazingly enough, once told that it was still seven weeks before Christmas and that was a long time to wait and not open those presents, they relented. Just a little…

I didn’t want to think about Christmas yet – I have a huge extended family, and we try to get everyone together at Christmas. That year, it was mine and my mom’s turn to coordinate the festivities, and I frankly hadn’t wanted to think about it since the year before (don’t ask-long story). It was always somewhat difficult explaining my differing beliefs to some of the cousins and their spouses…and pointing out pagan practices in modern Christmas traditions just doesn’t go over. So, we three say our blessing, and those that understand do, those that don’t…well, they are a tolerant bunch. That’s maybe why I love em so much.

I also didn’t want to think about Yule, which also meant trying to work in celebrating our wedding anniversary, as well. Little piece of advice for people considering marrying at Yule. Don’t. Just…don’t. It’s insanity, I tell you! (It may sound cynical, but I’m really glad most times, that I no longer have to work in an anniversary around Yule circle and Christmas preparations, LOL)

The second week of November was chillingly cold here. That Monday, both girls woke feeling a little under weather, and Rhia didn’t have a fever, her sister had a slight one and some mysterious marks on her face. I had been up all night getting some articles done and working on formatting a novel for editing. I was tired, my eyes were terribly sore from staring at the computer for six hours, and I was just slightly grouchy, too. Care ended up in tears as her temperature rose and her tolerance for anyone dropped. Rhia had (and still has) little patience for anything in the morning, and decided she was going to school to get away from her sister. Sibling rivalry overcomes the blahs of winter.

We got her off to school, and waited to hear from the nurse’s office as to whether or not we should take Care in to be checked out. When 10 AM rolled around and they hadn’t phoned I figured I’d go to bed, and Care and her father could fend for themselves. I wasn’t too worried about her – she’d had two mild cases of Chicken Pox before that, and that’s what this looked to be as well. But why did I leave Daddy in charge of a little girl who knows how to pull the sympathy strings? Lack of foresight perhaps. Or exhaustion. I claim holiday insanity!

My alarm rang at 2:30 PM, and I stumbled from the bedroom rubbing the sleep from my eyes and mumbling something about coffee. A further lack of foresight kept my eyes closed – after all, I could navigate the room in pitch darkness, why not with my eyes closed? Something prickly hit first my legs, then my face as I made intimate acquaintance with our tree. The two Yuletide culprits were sitting silent on the chair, hoping I wouldn’t notice them or the slightly guilty looks on their oh-I’m-so-innocent faces.

Goddess knows where I summoned the smile from, but I managed.

While the two of them washed the ornaments and garland (they’d met with a nasty accident involving a hot water tank, a broken pipe, and a wrench thrown in frustration against the low table they were stored on), I made myself extra-super-strong coffee, sat down with Yule – A Celebration of Light and Warmth by Dorothy Morrison. I hoped that would inspire some warmth and holiday spirit within my own spirit, and it did. After dinner that night, as the girls decorated the tree with the shiny clean ornaments, and lamented the loss of the musical lights (note: water and musical lights don’t mix; no, I was not disappointed in the least LOL), I sat writing an entire gift list for my family, with ideas from said book. The crafts and activities in the book are wonderful, and I highly recommend them for those celebrating Yule with families that generally celebrate Christmas…

* * *

What a difference almost a decade makes! My grandparents are both gone now, and our family has scattered to the four winds, it seems. The girls have grown up and as of today (December 16th) we still do not have a single decoration up to indicate it is approaching Yule, let alone less than a week away.

In our defense, we are awaiting arrival of a particular tree – The Nightmare Before Christmas Tree – featuring Jack Skellington and all his little friends. Still, we could have at least made a start on the decorating with lights and other ornaments. It seems as though the girls have, for the most part, lost interest in the holiday. They are at that age, you know the one. Mid-teens. Everything is just ‘too much work’ or ‘stupid’ and Goddess forbid they spend time with their family! How uncool!

I think we’ve finally hit on a mutual agreement. I’ve had a love-hate relationship with this time of year since I was a mid-teenager, too. I love seeing some of my family, but I hate crowds; I love shopping for gifts, but hate crowds; I love seeing the Christmas lights in town, but hate crowds – I think you’re getting the picture. This time of year has been filled with guilt and uneasiness for me since I was a teenager, due to maternal influences I still to this day, am trying to shed. For the years of my relationship with my now-ex-husband, it was a battle between choosing between he and my family. They rarely extended an invitation for him to join us, and even though I took it upon myself to do so every year, he refused to go more often than not, because they made him feel uncomfortable and unwelcome. I dreaded the yearly fight, and it wasn’t fair – our wedding anniversary was also Yule, and not once was it acknowledged by my family. Christmas, Yule and the anniversary, marred yearly by an immature family unable to release control of anyone else’s life.

This year, my daughters have the opportunity to meet their paternal grandmother, aunt and uncles for the first time. They are both looking forward to celebrating the season with a family that is hopefully less dysfunctional than the one they’ve known all their lives. Honestly, I’m hoping that will be the case, despite and regardless of my mother’s reaction to the news that she may have to share her granddaughters at Christmas. She was livid. Too bad. For the second time in 16 years, she does not get to dictate when and where, and I will not allow her to guilt the girls into changing their minds about spending time with their other family. It should be a happy time for them, not made uncomfortable by a guilt trip from grandma.

My one respite from this has always been Yule with my grove. Glas Celli was formed at Litha in 2001, but we knew each other for a year prior. This will be our ninth Yule as friends, and eighth as a grove. It’s always been a happy celebration for us, just a sense of togetherness, celebrating the rebirth of the God, the battle between Oak and Holly kings. A warm and happy time.

Home and heart. That has always been our focus with Glas Celli at Yule, and I think it should be the focus of this holiday season universally. As long as there is food on the table, love in our hearts and friendship to share, who needs baubles, bangles and bobs?

Exactly.

Happy Yule, everyone!


Jodi Lee is publisher and editor in chief of Belfire Press and The New Bedlam Project. Her writing has appeared in several recent anthologies as well as magazines on and offline for the past decade. Having shelved her first novel for the time being, she is currently working on two (or three) novels set in the fictional town of New Bedlam.

Interested in some horror for the holidays? Pre-order Courting Morpheus, the anthology set in New Bedlam! Featuring the works of MR Sellars, Camille Alexa and more, the stories explore the insanity that builds as Morpheus is busy elsewhere…

Tell us you read about us here, and we’ll refund your shipping costs!
(Offer only valid until December 21st, 2009)

A Ghost of Christmas Past

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In September of 2003, I lost the man who was everything to me growing up. My grandfather was as close to a father as I would get, and he was probably one of the strongest men I’ve ever known. From late 2001 until his passing, he went through a great many changes in his life, and his strength was sapped beyond repair.

That Christmas was hard on us all. Due to family conflict, we were missing half of the extended family, and the other quarter all had other commitments that day. To go from being a family of about 35, down to myself and the girls, my two brothers and my mom… it was heartbreaking. Memories of Christmases past haunted me like no other day. I could look out the porch window and imagine my grandparent’s old two-story, alive with their four kids, three in-laws, and nine grandchildren. Not to mention the uncle (divorced from my grandfather’s sister, but still part of the family), and their ‘adopted’ son, who’d grown up with their kids after being sent here to recover from polio in the fifties. A lot of what-ifs hovered sadly in my mind that day.

The sadness in my mother’s house was palpable. None of us really wanted to celebrate Christmas, and I’d already celebrated Yule with my circle-mates. A tension gripped us all as though we were going through the motions only because we had to. And that was exactly what we were doing.

Just when I thought I couldn’t take any more, my mother nearly had a meltdown over not having the right kind of cranberry sauce. Granted, this could have been the grief and the overall atmosphere, but I doubt it. There was cranberry jelly, and crushed cranberry sauce. We could have made do, and probably would have, but… I volunteered to go over to my grandparent’s to rummage through the pantry and see if there was a can of whole berry sauce there.

It broke my heart to go into that house and remember the few Christmases the family had there. It was my grandfather’s dream home, the one he designed himself, and built himself for the most part. He was in the very walls, literally. He poured his heart and soul into building that house. When I stood in the breezeway, letting my eyes adjust to the darkness of the house, I remembered standing in the old house, the first Christmas that we spent in the new one. I’d snuck out and gone over to the old house and just stood where we should have been eating dinner.

I stood there, somewhere between the old and the new, when a familiar scent caught my attention. Gillette shaving cream and Right Guard antiperspirant. I shrugged it off, and mounted the stairs to the kitchen and dining room. The further I went down the hall, the stronger the smell, and by the time I was at the kitchen, I was nearly in tears. Grandpa.

The cranberry sauce was right there, at the front of the middle shelf. All by itself, away from the canned goods and the dry goods. Just waiting. As I closed the pantry door, I felt the hair on the back of my neck rise, and a shiver run down my spine. I was being watched, and I knew I was alone in the house.

I took a few steps toward the bathroom, but decided I really didn’t want to look in there, not when I could still smell the shaving cream and the Right Guard… only now I could also detect just the faintest whiff of Listerine, as well. I turned right, and zipped down the hallway and down the stairs as quickly as I could – not from fright, but from grief. It hurt, smelling the familiar smells of my grandfather getting ready to go out and about. I stopped, though, when I was able to see across the landing and down the hall.

I had to. The whistling really wasn’t something I could ignore. See, my grandfather had a very distinctive way of whistling when he was happy, or when he was working, or when he was getting presentable. Particularly when he was getting presentable. I even recognized the tune, this time – it sounded very much like he was whistling “I Ain’t Been Long.” I don’t know what it’s real title is, but that’s what we all called it. I listened for several seconds, and finally found my voice.

“Dinner’s almost ready, Grandpa, come on over.”

The whistling stopped, and I left the house. As I started up the steps to the door at mom’s, I turned around to look back at my grandparent’s house. There in his bedroom window, stood Grandpa, looking out and smiling. I waved, and he was gone.


Jodi Lee is publisher and editor in chief of Belfire Press and The New Bedlam Project. Her writing has appeared in several recent anthologies as well as magazines on and offline for the past decade. Having shelved her first novel for the time being, she is currently working on two (or three) novels set in the fictional town of New Bedlam.

Interested in some horror for the holidays? Pre-order Courting Morpheus, the anthology set in New Bedlam! Featuring the works of MR Sellars, Camille Alexa and more, the stories explore the insanity that builds as Morpheus is busy elsewhere…

Tell us you read about us here, and we’ll refund your shipping costs!
(Offer only valid until December 21st, 2009)

Pagan Holiday for December 16th, 2009

Pagan Artist of the Month – Tom Brown!

Pagan Days for Wednesday, December 16th, 2009

~Wednesday is the day of Woden~

Woden is the God of knowledge, enlightenment, wisdom, & war.

Some believe Woden is also Odin—God of the Norse.

~Matters & Magical Workings For Wednesday~

Today is a good day to deal with matters or rituals and spells concerning anything business. Or perhaps some sort of communication. Maybe debt—something we all have these days, or what about  fear and or possibly loss? Matters or magic concerning money, or work, some type of travel. And then there’s education.

~Planets and Elements~

Mercury and the element Air

~Moon Phase~

* New Moon Magic *

New Moon workings can be done from the day of the new moon to three-and-a-half days after. The new moon is for starting new ventures, new beginnings. Also love and romance, health or job hunting. SOURCE

~

~8 Days Until Christmas!~

Today…

Rome celebrated the festival of their Goddess Sapientia, (Sophia in Greek lore)

She represents Wisdom, among other things.

This is the Eve of Saturnalia in Rome, which means tomorrow, wisdom won’t be so easy to find. *winks*

Today in Egypt, is called The Day of Ptah lifting up Ra in his hands.

Ptah was believed to have been the first Egyptian God who created the world. Egypt came from the words  Het Ka Ptah—The House of Spirit Ptah

Ra was the sun, so on this day, Ptah placed the sun into the sky.

Book Review: Yule by Dorothy Morrison

bloodiedquill

Note: Review originally published in 2000. Personal notations are from that period, and not current. I just had to include this today!

Yule: A Celebration of Light and Warmth
By Dorothy Morrison

Publisher: Llewellyn Publications
Number of Pages: 198
ISBN: 1-56718-496-0
Copyright: Dorothy Morrison 2000
Release: Fall 2000

I literally itched to get this book from the moment it was offered to me. Dorothy Morrison has made a large impact on the pagan community with her warmth and heart, and I feel honored to recommend this book.

And that I do, highly! Particularly at this time of year – a season to prepare and give gifts, to celebrate the birth of the Sun, to celebrate our families, our friends, our lives. I think I gained five pounds just reading and imagining the recipes – I envisioned Ms. Morrison’s “Ambrosia” (pg 128) melting in my mouth; “Gingerbread Cookies” (pg 127) and “Wassail” (pg 144) for all at my family gathering this holiday season.

This of course leads to thoughts of presents for various family members. Almost all of my family is unbearably difficult to buy for – so I simplify and give them all pictures of the girls. For those who invariably require something a little more (like my much younger brothers, who aren’t much older than my girls) I try to find something to suit their personalities.

This year, each of them is getting gifts made by my little family, following directions in “Yule.” My mother (again, the most difficult person to buy for) will get a Potpourri Lamp as described on page 101, with slight modifications. This will be from myself, as the girls have laid claim on decorating other candle-holders. My brothers will receive the “Coffee Spoons” found on page 149. My grandparents will be getting a modified version of the Stocking Identifiers on page 64, to be used as ornaments on their little tree.

Here’s a sample of Ms. Morrison’s work, from page 51:

The Dawning of Solstice
T’was the dawning of Solstice
The shortest day of the year
And we cheered on the Mother
For Her delivery was near
And as we watched the pink streaks
That flashed bright in the sky
We knew he was coming
In the flash of an eye
Then the Mother groaned once
And an orange streak appeared
Then yellow, then white
And we all laughed and cheered
Then the first ray of sunshine
Bathed us all with its light
And we knew that the Sun
Had been born of the Night
And He rose in the sky – Just a tiny bright ball –
To warm our hearts and our planet…
Happy Solstice to all!
~ Adapted by Dorothy Morrison from the 1823 poem “A Visit From St.Nicholas” By Clement C. Moore

Y’all have a little time before it’s too late for this year’s Yule celebrations. If you are at a creative loss for ideas, or just wish to try something new – I cannot stress enough – THIS BOOK COVERS IT! From the origins of the multitude of celebrations, to crafts and activities, to a countdown calendar – Ms.Morrison’s Yule is a perfect resource to help you welcome the Sun!

I bet it would make a great gift, too. 😉


Jodi Lee is publisher and editor in chief of Belfire Press and The New Bedlam Project. Her writing has appeared in several recent anthologies as well as magazines on and offline for the past decade. Having shelved her first novel for the time being, she is currently working on two (or three) novels set in the fictional town of New Bedlam.

Interested in some horror for the holidays? Pre-order Courting Morpheus, the anthology set in New Bedlam! Featuring the works of MR Sellars, Camille Alexa and more, the stories explore the insanity that builds as Morpheus is busy elsewhere…

Tell us you read about us here, and we’ll refund your shipping costs!
(Offer only valid until December 21st, 2009)