Wednesday, 20 June 2018

12-14.10.2018 Save the date: Fenno-Swedish heathen retreat in Ostrabothnia


Hello my witchy friends!

I am happy to announce that there will be a heathen/wiccan retreat in Ostrabothnia this Autumn. During the 12th to the 14th of October there will be a meeting of witches and heathens alike. The retreat will be held in Swedish.

The idea for the retreat was born from a need to get together and share experiences. Being a witch in Finland can be a very lonely experience. So me, and my friends Holly and Fenris got our heads together and set about planning this event. More information will be made available during July. So until then: Save the date and mark it down in your calendars!

Blessed be!
~Stella

Monday, 28 May 2018

Recipe: Fresh summery salad

Here is a nice recipe for a salad that is bound to brighten any day.



Ingredients
1 bag of mixed salad (or make your own)
Strawberries
Blueberries
Mozzarella
Basil
Pistachios
Pickled red onions
Some salt, pepper, balsamic vinegar and olive oil

I simply opened the salad bag and poured it onto a serving plate, removing any leaved that had gone bad. I then halved the strawberries and scattered them over the salad. I was going to use ready made small mozzarella balls, but I couldn't find any in the store so I got a large mozzarella ball and pulled pieces off of it and tossed them with the salad. I decorated with the basil leaves, mixing some into the salad as well. Lastly I scattered the blueberries and pistachios on the salad and decorated with the pickled red onions.

Serve with a little bit of ground black pepper and salt and add olive oil and balsamic vinegar. This is a very summery salad and is perfect with light meals like fish or chicken. I served mine with some honey-marinated grilled chicken, grilled halloumi cheese and couscous.

Have a lovely day!
~Stella

Sunday, 27 May 2018

Review: Witch Casket February box

I finally have time to review the February box from Witch Casket. For those who do not know Witch Casket is a "vegan friendly, magickal witchy subscription box," according to their homepage. They are a mother-daughter company and make themed monthly subscription boxes. The February box is the second one I ordered, and this post will be my review of the box. So to start off, here is the list of contents:

The list of contents included in the box.

The theme of the February box is self love. This shows throughout most of the content, packaged in black and purple. In all I really like how nicely everything is packaged and how the color theme runs throughout the whole box. This creates a feeling that everything is well thought through. I will not comment on every product, but here are my thoughts on some of them. I will start with my least favorite things and move up from there.

Both boxes I have received so far have contained what I would describe as lifestyle, fashion or statement products, that do not directly have a magical application. Last time there was a badge and a hat. This time we get a keyring with the text "good witch", a badge with "mirror mirror" on it and a relaxation/meditation eye mask. These are the products I have spent most time pondering on what their function is in the box.

Don't get me wrong, these are really nice products, and things I can make use of. I love badges, for example, but I fail to see what this "mirror mirror" badge has to do with the box itself. Maybe I just feel that it could have said something relating more to the theme of the box, like "love yourself". The keyring has come in handy since I have been needing a new one.

The meditation mask with the text "Let me be, I'm meditating" is nice and edgy and it fits nicely. My biggest problem with it is that it is made out of cheap polyester (plastic), with no information about the material or how to care for it. I would appreciate it a hundred times more if it were made from natural fibers which would have made it more environmentally friendly. The thought behind the eye mask is nice and I will be using it on long trips.

Here are the contents of the February box.

The self-love bath/shower potion has been really nice. It is scented with a lavender perfume. The pentacle necklace from Curiology has to be one of the most unique pentacles I have ever seen. It is made from this holographic acrylic which makes it look pink, purple, green and some other colors at the same time. Not maybe what I would wear normally, but I am sure I will have a chance to include it with some outfit. To me it feels more like a fashion statement than religious jewelry.

The Blue Lady loose leaf tea was an interesting blend of black tea and maybe citrus? I don't normally like teas with lemon in them, so this is not my favourite tea. However, that is not my problem with it. My problem is that I would like to see the list on ingredients, which is something I could not find anywhere in the box. Especially for people with allergies or people on certain medication it is vital to know the ingredients of the tea they drink. Some herbs can counteract certain medicines and some ingredients might cause allergic reactions. I also like to know what is in the tea I am drinking.

Now moving on to the items I loved:

The self-love ritual kit, the art by TeaCakeArt, the candle snuffer and the affirmation card deck. Sorry for the glare that blurred out the text on the cards.
The candle snuffer is a practical tool I have been missing for a long time. I have been wanting to thrift one for ages but just have not found one. So when I found this black candle snuffer in the box I was thrilled. What is more, it is small and compact which is good if I need to travel with it.

The affirmation card deck has come in handy many times. I like that the cards are printed on sturdy cardstock and that they come in their own little pouch.

The self-love ritual kit was also very nice. The smell of rose and lavender that I was met with as I opened the bag was very pleasant. I am not a huge fan of tea candles so I have used some pink tapered candles dressed in lavender essential oil for the ritual included in the kit. It is a handy little ritual for learning to meditate and become mindful of the positive aspects of ones life.

In all I am very happy with the February box. Here is a compilation of the best parts and some thing I am missing or feeling thoughtful about:

+ I absolutely love the color theme and how it goes hand in hand with the content of the box. Most content seems to have a connection with the theme and the "side" products tie in with the themed products. The theme works and is well built.

- I would like to see some more background information for some products (and some ingredient lists for the tea). For beginning witches, especially, getting more instructions and information on how to use products and the symbology behind items, colors and herbs would be really helpful.

+ On that note I will continue by saying that the small information cards that do come along with some of the items are really nice and useful. They are a good introduction and I wish they came with more of the items. I have started collecting mine in the book that came with the January box.

-/+ I feel there is too much plastic in the box. I would feel better about the contents if they were packaged in paper as I am trying to reduce the amount of plastic I use. However, the box itself, as well as the small plastic bags can be reused. The bag for the tea and ritual kit are resealable, and what is even better is that they can be opened without tearing the top section off. So a big plus for that.

+ Even though I am not a fan of polyester, I do like the small organza bags that come with the badge and the keyring. These can easily be used to hold charms, gems or other things. I wish that the gemstone and the items from Curiology would also come packaged in small fabric bags instead of in plastic.

So that is it for the February box. All of the items have seen some use and will continue to do so. And I will continue ordering the box for as long as I can. It is not a hugely expensive subscription box, but I do not make a lot, so I had a break in ordering this item during March and April. The next box I review will be the May box, which just arrived.

If you have any questions or thoughts you can leave them in a comment below. I am not sponsored by Witch Casket. The opinions expressed are entirely my own. I pay for the box with my own hard-earned money, and the only contact I have had with the company is when I e-mailed them to change my address.

Have a blessed magical day!
~Stella

Wednesday, 16 May 2018

DIY: Cute ragdoll-dress for summer

A few years back I used to work at a fabric store. As a result I still have boxes upon boxes filled with fabric. Last Autumn I went through my whole stash and reorganized everything into neat piles and put them in clear boxes so I could see everything. Since then my fabric stash has been a bit more manageable.

I have vowed to not by new fabric until my stash is greatly diminished, so in order to do that I try to sew every now and again. Since I am also slowly creating a new wardrobe this goes hand in hand with the sewing. Problem is I usually need a lot of time and very good inspiration in order to sew. Pattern creation and new garments take a lot of time.

So last Monday inspiration hit and I happened to have extra time on my hands. Thus I went through my stash in search of fabrics that might match. I wanted to make a lace dress, but I did not have enough lace to make both the top and bottom parts of a full circle skirt dress. So I chose a black chiffon with a floral pattern for the skirt part and a lace for the top and sleeves. For lining I found a viscose with a very nice feel to it and a good weight. So I started cutting out pattern pieces, playing tetris with the pattern to get all the pieces out of my half meter lace fabric.

Top pieces cut.

Once I had everything cut I started with the lining of the skirt. I serged the hem and added a 25cm wide lace to it, ruffling it slightly. I then hemmed the edge of the chiffon but ran into some trouble with my serger. Frustrated and a bit tired already, I decided to cover the hem of the chiffon up with a red velvet ribbon. Some years ago I bought 15 meters of this ribbon and I thought I could finally put at least some of it to good use.

Once the skirt part was done I got started with the top. With both the lace and the lining I started by joining the shoulder seams together. I then attached the unlined sleeves and sandwiched them between the lining and the lace. I had to undo the seams and put them back together again because I was tired and wasn't paying attention to which way I was fastening them, but a frustrating 45 minutes later I was back on track.

Once the sleeves were attached I started thinking about how to hem them. I looked through my lace ribbon stash and found some stretchy, not so wide lace and decided to hem the sleeves with that to give them a neater look. I finished the head opening of the dress in the same fashion.

Hemming the sleeves.
The last thing that remained was to attach the top to the skirt layers. I serged them together and put in a line of strengthening straight stitches. I then zig-zagged an elastic band to this waistline to make the skirt fit nicely and not just hang like a sack from my shoulders. And here is the finished dress:




In all these are the materials I used:

1,2 m chiffon
1,5 m viscose (lining)
0,5 m lace fabric
6 m of 25 cm wide lace (lining hem)
5 m red velvet ribbon
1,7 m stretch lace (sleeves, head opening)
1 m of 0,7 mm wide elastic
black and red sewing thread.

Time: I think it took me about 8 hours from start to finish, including pattern drafting, meal breaks, chatting with friends and going for a walk in between. Had I worked non-stop I could probably have halved the time.

The dress fits nicely and the viscose works really well as a lining fro this dress. In all it feels light to wear, it is super cute and the uneven hem hives it a slightly rag-doll feel. Hmm. I wonder what I should make next.

~Stella

Tuesday, 24 April 2018

Recipe: comforting ramen

Spring is upon us here in Finland and I am being plagued by the spring cold. So here is my recipe for a comforting ramen dinner. I just used what I happened to have in my pantry and fridge: some greens and leftover teriyaki chicken.

Here are the ingredients:

Salad
Daikon
Cucumber
Avocado

Ramen bowl
Ramen
Soft boiled egg
Red bell pepper
Carrot, about a five cm piece
Two small shiitake mushrooms
About 1 dl of left over teriyaki chicken
Fresh spring onions

Broth
Half a cube of vegetable broth
One package of instant miso soup
Spring onion
2,5 dl water

Making this takes about 15 minutes and is super easy. I never measure ingredients precisely, I just use what I happen to have around and what I feel like eating. But let's jump into making this, starting with the salad:



Making the salad

Prepare a bowl with ice cold water. Start by grating some daikon. I had a piece lying around and grated enough that I could fit in my hand by lightly squeezing it. Julienne the cucumber into thin strips. I used half of a 6 cm piece. Add the cucumber strips to the ice water and let them sit there with the daikon for the rest of your prep time. Peel and slice some avocado.

When you are ready to serve, gently squeeze the water out of the daikon and cucumber mix and add to a bowl or plat together with the avocado.



The ramen bowl

Lets make the eggs first: Bring a good amount of water to the boil and gently lower an egg into it. Boil for 6 minutes and then remove the egg, dunking it into ice water to stop the cooking process. Before serving, cut the egg in half.

Cook your ramen noodles according to the instructions on the package. Mine took about 3 minutes. Pour them into a strainer and run them under cold water until cool to prevent them from going mushy.

For the vegetables: Slice the shiitake and julienne the carrot and pepper. Thinly. Since you will only be adding hot broth to the ramen bowl and won't cook the veggies it is best to slice them as thinly as possible. Slice the spring onions thinly at an angle.

Assemble by placing the noodles in the bottom of a bowl and arranging all other ingredients on top: vegetables, mushrooms, chicken and egg halves. Add the spring onion garnish last.


The broth

Add water to a saucepan and add in the vegetable broth cube, the instant miso soup (or a couple of teaspoons), and the spring onions. I usually save the white spring onion part for this and use the greener bits as garnish. Bring to a boil and simmer for a few minutes. Pour over the ramen bowl.



The cool crunchiness of the salad adds a nice juicy contrast to the ramen bowl. Need more salt? Add a splash of soy sauce. Enjoy while hot with some nice green tea.


~Stella

Sunday, 15 April 2018

"Are you still into that Wicca thing?"

I've been a witch and Wiccan for half my life. During the first years I was very nervous about "coming out" to friends and family. Today it is no longer an issue for me, and very few people have ever taken issue with my choice of religion. Except a few.

A few days ago I met a couple of good friends and they told me that they had met a former friend of mine. This former friend, let us call him Mike, used to be very close to me. Mike was very strong in his [insert name of largest religion in the world here] faith, but never expressed having any issues with mine. On the contrary he often asked about Wicca and showed a genuine, healthy interest in witchcraft. We were friends for a long time and I trusted him.

As you know, life happens, and I won't go into detail, but a few years ago he broke off our friendship over a comment on [insert name of large social media platform here], because of a comment from one of my acquaintances. For some reason, moving to a new city changed him. We tried to reconcile a few times but in the end I had to block him, and I have been living happily unaware of his existence ever since.

So fast forwarding to a few days ago when I met my good friends. They had ran into him some time ago and he had apparently asked about me, with these words: "Is she still into that Wicca thing?"

I don't know why, but for some reason this makes me immensely irritated. It feels derogatory and as a slight against my faith, and against me, especially coupled with the very rude joke about Wicca that Mr Mike made just before. Listen, Mr Mike: you used to be interested, you used to care and ask informed questions. Then you turn into an egotistic jerk, bashing me and my friends for being feminists, agitating my other friends for their beliefs, and when you no longer have access to my social media feed, you pry on my life though our mutual friends? It is not the first time you have done this, but it is the first time you have done it in such a derogatory way (and it has reached my ears).

If you dislike me so much, why do you not just put me out of your mind? I feel like I have become an obsession for you, and I do not like that. I've had enough.

I've been a witch and Wiccan for half my life. Yes, I am "still into that Wicca thing". It is not a teenage phase, it is not a fad. It is my religion, and I would never even think about asking anyone else if they are still into their religion. So Mr Mike, if you are reading this and your intention was not to slight me, please learn that choice and presentation of words is important, so learn to choose carefully.

~Stella

Sunday, 25 February 2018

Review: Witch Casket January Box

It has taken me a while to get there, but I am finally ready to review the first box I got from Witch Casket. I will not talk about every item in it, but rather focus on the general impression and a few specific products. Disclaimer: This is my personal review and thoughts on this subscription box. I pay for it with my own money and I am not sponsored in any way by Witch Casket.

***

Witch Casket is a small company run from Britain by mother-daughter duo Deb and Ella. The subscription box was launched in November 2016 and has subscribers in 20 countries. The box does not come with tracking so be aware of this if you consider a subscription. Deb and Ella are however very responsive to e-mail and are active on social media, posting pictures of their caskets shipping out.

At the end of 2017 I decided to order this subscription box. The boxes ship on the 15th of each month and I received mine on the 24th of January. I believe it took this long to arrive because of the Finnish post being very slow sometimes. Anyway, let's jump to the contents:

These goodies arrived in a nice white carton box.
The box was well packaged and the presentation was very nice. The contents were wrapped in a grey silk paper, which made it feel like it had been prepared with great care. The smell of Nag champa incense met me almost immediately as I opened the box. I will not list all the contents, but rather here is a list of the contents that was provided in the box.

The contents as listed on the note that came in the box.

The first two items I picked out of the box were the art print and the book mark, both of which are among my favorites from this box. The print by Tea Cake Art is simply stunning. And as I love bookmarks and Edgar Allan Poe, the bookmark with a quote by him was right up my alley. However, before I continue with other favorites, let me talk a little bit about some other products in the box.

The Witch-beanie is really nice, but I am not sure how much I will be wearing it. The material is listed as 100% acrylic (which I am sure that is not true for the embroidery which is sure to be polyester), and I cannot stand acrylic. I try to use natural materials as much as possible and acrylic is plastic. It is often used as a substitute for wool because it can be made to mimic the feel of wool. But as I mostly use beanies while out in the woods, on hikes and in camp life where my materials have to be able to withstand fire and weather, I would not be able to bring this with me. It does fit nicely however, so I will try to find use for it, or to find a nice new home for it.

Ginger loose leaf green tea.
I drink a lot of tea and always love sampling different teas. This was a nice sampling size: 8 grams of loose green tea with some ginger in it. What I did lack were brewing instructions. Green tea cannot been brewed in too high temperatures as it will turn bitter. But in too low temperatures you will not be able to taste the ginger. I brewed mine in a teapot at about 75 degrees Celsius. The ginger was very subtle, to the point where I could barely taste it, but that could also be due to the cold I am suffering (and ginger is good to drink where you've got that cold going on). In general a basic tea that could maybe have had a bit more ginger in it. Enough for four small teacups or one large teapot.

My favorites from the January Witch Casket.
I already talked about the art print and the bookmark. I also mentioned that the box smelled of nag champa incense. There are 12 incense cones in the package and a small burner to hold your incense. This is always a good basic incense to have and the smell for some reason reminds me of fresh, clean laundry.

The stone is a black line Jasper and is a new stone for me, so it will be exciting to start working with it. I love buttons, so the witchy themed button with "Wisdom begins in wonder" was really lovely. It came in a small organza bag which will surely find its use as a spell satchel.

Lastly there is the book, which is also the theme for the January box: Grimoires, spellbooks and witch's journals. The book is hardcover. It has a small strap for fastening a pen or pencil to it (this would by the way have been a great addition to the box), and an elastic band for keeping the book closed. There is a bookmark band and inside the back cover is a pocket for keeping small notes etc. The pages are cream paper and they are lines.

Notebooks are always good to have. I have not yet decided what to use mine for as I already have more notebooks than I could count. I do know, however, that it will come in handy and be put to good use.

So what are my final thoughts on this box?
  • The box was very nicely packaged and the color theme and packaging throughout was well completed and thought out.
  • Some of the products seemed more like lifestyle-products than as something to do with magic (eg. the beanie, sticker and skull spoon) but they do follow the general witchy theme.
  • There could have been a bit more tea, but the amount included was a good sample size. Brewing instructions would be good to include.
  • The emotional healing charm bag kit could have included more information about the separate ingredients included in it. Especially for beginners it would be good to know what qualities the ingredients represent. 
In general I felt like the products tied very loosely together with each other, and there was a little bit of this and a little bit of that. Some items clearly were linked to the theme of spell books/grimoires, but most felt like they were just products with a witchy theme. I am however positively impressed by the box and the quality of the contents. They provide inspiration to a magical life and to perform spells. Receiving the notebook at the beginning of the year inspires making notes about one's magical journey though the year of 2018. The bookmark begs to be used either to mark pages in that journal or in some book on magic one might pick up and read during this year.

In short, I am happy with the box and I am looking forward to reviewing the next one (which arrived earlier this week).

Many blessings!
~Stella