Traveling: Like a Boss on a Budget!

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Well, long time no post, eh? I’ve been super busy dealing with close family matters and having relatives from out of state over for the holidays, and yes I know that is no excuse for not paying attention to you lovelys, but I’m only human! But all this holiday travel has inspired me to write about how you can do so on a budget and a few pieces of advice on a journey of mine to come.

Do any of you have a Pinterest? If not I would highly recommend getting one if you are looking to have a trip soon or are planning a vacation. It’s on online ‘file’ were you can put all of your info/itineraries/inspirational pictures/or reviews of places you want to go (among millions of other things from tattoo inspiration to “what in the world can I use this wooden pallet for?”).  I have a Pinterest board specifically designated to my trip to Japan coming up later this year! I’m a bit of a board hoarder, in that I make a Pin board for just about anything.

So first thing’s first. Where are you going? Do you have a strict budget? How strict are we talking? $1,000 for you and your significant other? BUT YOU’RE TRYING TO GET TO AMSTERDAM? Hohohokay, so that’s a little far reaching. Sometimes you may think a situation will be untouchable, though with alot of careful planning it is definitely in grasping range. You just have to know where to look! Adam and I are planning our WHOOOOLE trip to Japan for under $5,000. That may seem like a lofty price tag, but that covers airfare, hotels, food, souvenirs, travel inside the country, AND it’s halfway around the world for us as well. And airline tickets to Japan run at a little over $1,000 per person roundtrip.

Kayak.com
I haven’t found the magical travel genie to grant my wishes and make my airfare any cheaper, but when I do I’ll stuff him in my closet and tell no one  alert every single person around the world! However, I’ve found that Kayak.com works the best for finding the cheapest air tickets. Especially if you don’t have a set date. If you’re like me and plan the trip around when airline tickets drop in price then Kayak has an option to search the whole month for the best prices available. So you’re thinking about going to India in the month of December? Tell Kayak you’re not sure about dates and it will compare all the days of December to see where the better sale is. I love this option because hotel rates are nearly the same through the year, so I can choose which month I can save HUNDREDS with on my airfare.

Booking.com
This is the WORLD’S BEST HOTEL BOOKING SITE. I. KID. NOT. When I first found booking.com I thought it was too good to be true (do I sound like I’m being paid to say all this? Cause I’m not! Heh!) But they cater to not just large hotels but the small mom & pop ones too. From hostels to hotels to plazas this site finds me the best price for my situation and I PAY NOTHING. Most times there are no booking fees or reservation deposits because it allows you to pay later. If it’s a smaller hotel sometimes you can even do it in cash! And the best part? Free cancellation! Sometimes people make plans to go places and then those plans fall through. I don’t know how many times Booking.com has saved my butt from cancellation fees because I booked through them. I often make plans to go to anime conventions alot, and if you know anything about con hotels it’s that they fill up fast and expensive. So with Booking, if the hotel the con is being hosted at is full up or just out of my price range I can search for cheaper hotels nearby and reap the benefits of booking without fees, deposits, and I don’t have to worry that I won’t have a room at the next con! Plus you’re allowed to leave reviews of hotels you’ve stayed in which is helpful if you’re stuck choosing between the option of mini-bar or no mini-bar.

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Packing Light
I cannot stress this enough. Packing light is going to save you around $25-$100 on baggage fees. And that’s if you’re playing safe and you know how to properly measure a suitcase’s weight. Adam and I are taking to Japan a set of nesting luggage pieces. All of our clothes are going into the second largest suitcase which will then be placed inside the largest one. The largest will later be used for souvenirs for not only ourselves, but our family and friends who’ve all made requests for certain items (and trust me, they’ll all help with the possible overweight baggage fees that I’m sure are to arise. ~Shakes fist~). Then we will split the carry on because, let’s be honest, when you travel a foreign country, how many pieces of luggage do you want to be toting around? For me? Zero. But the world isn’t that perfect and my travel genie is still missing, so reducing the bags I have to tow around is the least I can do for myself. But mostly Adam who will be a sweetheart and do most of the toting. (Hey, someone has to carry the camera around and take pictures of the fore mentioned sweetheart!)
As the time nears for us to leave I will more than likely do a packing tutorial for how to properly pack a suitcase. But if you’re hungry for some vacation prep (I know I am!) you can mosey over to some gems I’ve found have made a difference in travel packing:
29 Ideal Travel Bags: Link I’m in love with #26! Such a great insert and cute colors!
eBag Packing Cubes: Link SO great if you struggle with mixing through overweight baggage to get out that one item you know is weighing you down, but can’t find under your (now) messed up clothes!
Adventure Chic: Link A good set of packing lists to get you through 3 weeks in cold and warm weather with only 16 pieces of clothing

And have you already been somewhere but don’t know what to do with all of that souvenir money you collected? Tattered Style has a great tutorial on turning that change into fridge magnets!

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How You Can Have a Happy Thanksgiving {While Adding Some Magickal Flair}

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In the rough olden days, the English settlers came to America to seek refuge from the king’s over taxation, and to establish a civilization of their own. However, they soon found out that the place they were settling was already inhabited by Native Americans. We all know the story from here on and some Pagans choose to not celebrate due to the invasion and harassment of the Native’s homeland. I can understand that and if the post below isn’t for you I suggest a nice quiet ritual of meditation and silence to honor the ones who have fallen trying to protect their land and people.

However, if you’re like me and love the festivities, food, and family then read on…

If I have the resources I will find any excuse to cook. However, being a college student working 30 hours a week, supporting a cat and a dog that thinks it’s a cat, I don’t have the time to whip out the cook book and hover over a cutting board/stove for an hour so that I may cube beef and brew curry. But there are a couple times a year where I can join my culinary inspiration in the kitchen and help her create a masterpiece worthy of the Louvre. My mom can paint a spread so magnificent, so succulent, so…FREAKING DELICIOUS it could make Bob Ross cry. And on Thanksgiving I get the honor of sharing the kitchen with her. Which consists of lots of cursing, flour everywhere, strange smells, mom/me/dad crying, great smells, and then the result of the most beautiful banquet you’d ever lay eyes upon. Seriously, you can almost feel your stomach tear in expectation of what’s to come.

This year though, I’m regretful to not be able to bask in the afterglow of my mom’s glorious Thanksgiving lunch. I work retail, therefor my soul belongs to the Black Friday demon. So after we eat on Thursday I will be heading home to hibernate until I must awaken at 2 a.m. to head to work and please the materialistic crowds. Joy. Nothing says “Thanksgiving” like trampling another person for 20 dollars off a toaster.

But we all know why you’re here. “Dammit, Jim, get to the recipes.”

The first is~

~Stuffed Acorn Squash
What You’ll Need:

  • 3 medium to large acorn squash
  • 4-6 tablespoons butter or margarine
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 medium carrot, diced
  • 1 celery stalk, de-strung, diced
  • 1 cup cubed squash (Any kind but zucchini)
  • 1/2 cup mushrooms, diced or sliced
  • 3-4 cups stale French or Country bread, torn into bite-sized pieces
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh sage (or 1-2 tablespoons crumbled, dried leaf sage)
  • 1/3 cup chopped nuts (optional)
  • 2 cups (or more) vegetable broth, salted
  • 1 cup (or more) hot apple cider or sweet white wine (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Wash the whole acorn squash and cut them into halves lengthwise. This will make six bowls. Remove the seeds and strings then set aside.
In a heavy skillet heat the butter or margarine. Add the garlic, onion, carrot, celery, cubed squash, and mushrooms. Saute this mixture over medium-high heat until veggies are tender!
In a large bowl, mix the bread pieces, eggs (these give great texture to the final product), parsley, sage, and chopped nuts if desired.
Add the bread mixture to the sauteed vegetables and stir to mix thoroughly, then add the vegetable broth (salted to taste). Continue to mix, squishing with your hands if you’d like, and adding broth as necessary, until the stuffing is very moist and soft.
Mound the stuffing into the squash halves, place the stuffed squash bowls on a large baking sheet, cover with foil, and bake until the squash is tender and the stuffing is done, about 1 hour. Or you could place the squash into a baking dish into which you have poured a cup or more of hot apple cider or sweet white wine, leave halves uncovered, and baste every 15 minutes with pan juices until done.
Serve hot!

The next two recipes for you are pies! Glorious, glorious pies!

~Moon Apple Pie
What You’ll Need:

  • 1 9-inch pie crust
  • 2 cups firm, tart apples, peeled, cored, and sliced
  • 1/3 cup raisins (optional)
  • 4 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup maple syrup or honey (or if you’re me, agave)
  • 1 cup plain, low fat yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat the oven to 375°F.
In an unbaked shell, spread the apples and raisins (if desired) evenly.
In a blender, combine the eggs, maple syrup or honey (or agave!), yogurt, vanilla extract, cinnamon, and sea salt. Blend until creamy.
Pour this custard over the apples and bake for about an hour, or until set. Allow to cool before serving.

If you liked these recipes you can find more like it in a wonderful book called “A Witch in the Kitchen”. You can purchase it here.

~Texas Style Pecan Pie
What You’ll Need:

  • 2 deep dish unbaked pie shells
  • 6 beaten eggs
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted (The real thing is better. If you use margarine, add 1/8 teaspoon salt to the recipe.)
  • 2 cups brown sugar, packed
  • 1 3/4 cups corn syrup
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 1/2 cups chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350°F.
Slowly and thoroughly mix together the eggs, butter, brown sugar, corn syrup, and vanilla. Pour the mixture into the two pie shells.
As this mixture will not “rise” like some pies, you can fill the shells higher than usual, but not so high they boil over and leave a sticky burned mess in your oven. Cover the pies with pecans. Bake for an hour.

This recipe is found in the awesome book “Sabbats”. You can purchase this book here.

I hope these have helped you get a little more into the Thanksgiving spirit!  I know I’m ready! Now off to drool until then…

How We Do Christmas (Part 3)

 

If you didn’t read Part 1 you can find it here, and Part 2 here!

“Now, how does this help me understand what Yule is?” you may be asking. “I came to learn about Yule, dammit!” Well here’s what I’ve been noticing in change, and what I hope for in the future.

More Pagans have come out of the wood works and started making a voice for us. We’ve been grouping together and having a say in the holiday season. And sure, you’re not going to be able to walk into Hobby Lobby and pick up an intricately detailed, carved mahogany besom or make-it-yourself “My First Athame” kit. Though I don’t see anyone making athames really… But Pagans are getting out there. We’re having meet-ups, public circles, even Pride Festivals! Now I know there are the older witches who can by all means pipe in and say if they’ve had a large Pagan community since before I was born. But there has been so much change, especially in the harder to get places, such as the bible belt or foreign countries. There’s a reason the term “in the broom closet” still exists, though it’s slowly on it’s way out!

I plan on having kids one day. It’s one of my biggest dreams to be a mother; to raise a tiny person, an individual being, and watch them flourish into something greater. Especially if I get to dress them up in curly pigtails and cute little rain booties! But I know, though the Pagan community is starting to make an impact, individual Pagan families have their own ups and downs with children. So what am I going to do one day when little Adamina comes home asking about why we don’t we celebrate Christmas? Why do we celebrate Yule instead?
I would treat it exactly like the situations where people ask why I don’t celebrate Christmas. I would explain that Christmas was originally Yule, and the Holly King celebrates his strength during the Winter months. We celebrate the coming sun in the next few months and try to give ourselves some cheer while the harsh snowy weeks blow on. I would tell my kids how The Holly King was adapted by Saint Nick, the good man who went around his village giving gifts to the good children. Who was then adapted to into Sinterklaas. Who then turned into Santa Claus! So in all, I would tell my dear chillun’ the origins of Santa Claus. I would tell her why it’s a Yule tree and why we save it for the Maypole the next year. And yes, dear Adamina, our feast is twice as kick ass as a Christmas one. I mean what is more traditional than a Pturducken? Or that just my family that does that…?

But Bre? What about your in-laws? Won’t they still do Christmas at their house?

Good question. If (by some miracle worthy of godly status) some poor, poor man chooses my soul as the one they want to be forever bound to I will have to face the in-laws about being Pagan. Though it hasn’t come up in conversation with Adam’s mom much ~cough~ever~cough~ I will eventually have to sit down with her and explain to her why we won’t be getting married in a church. And that is going to be oh-so fun because I’m pretty sure she dislikes me, the evil succubus who seduced her son away. BUT, the conversation will have to happen again once our children are born. But it will be less stickler-ish because it’s my children’s religion, not mine. And I’ll explain all of this to her because I want her to understand and see religion/spirituality the same way I do. I will let my children celebrate Christmas if they want. But not like every other kid does. For starters…

  • They won’t have to go to Christmas Eve church service
  • They don’t have to participate in the Yule circle if they don’t want to
  • Want to watch Rudolph and A Charlie Brown Christmas? Go ahead!
  • They can get their presents on Yule OR Christmas
  • They can get them on BOTH days
    Though it would be the same amount, just split
  • We won’t be the family that segregates them from the others because they choose Jesus and not The Goddess and God
    I’ve been through that, why would I put someone else through it?

And who knows? Kids change! At the age of six I thought I would be worshiping the Christian God forever. But several years later, I danced to a different tune! So if they grow up doing circles and rituals, and the next year Christmas is more their style, then they can change and no hard feelings would be had (though we probably would miss them in the circle).

I hope this whole series has been a bit of help for some of you. Maybe a friend or relative is suffering with something similar, and now you can help them out! I know I struggled for quite a while with how I felt about Christmas and Yule. But I’m so glad I have things figured out now, it’s such a relief. And thanks for sticking with me thus far! It’s so great getting to know more of the community through here! I wish you all the best! )O(

If you liked my post, or anything you saw on my page, please share or follow. You can subscribe via email or like my cosplay page “Kazoku Cosplay”.

How We Do Christmas (Part 2)

Hey all, so I’m continuing my post about Yule and if you missed the first part you can find it heeerreee!

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As I got older the haunting teachings of church kept coming back to me. I always felt like looking back over my shoulder to make sure God wasn’t watching me as I lit a stick of incense or wrote in my Book of Shadows. When I lived as a Christian I always felt that God was sitting up in Heaven, looking down on me for any reason to write me a hall-pass to Hell. Even more so during my time of transition because I was also coming to realize my sexuality. As some of you may know the Christian church doesn’t look too kindly on the gay community. However, there are gay friendly churches, you just have to know where to look for them. At the time, though, my social life was limited to school and the kids who neighbored us, so the idea of running back to the Christian way of life was a little intimidating to do alone. So a Pagan path I continued down. Queue “The Point of No Return“.

My first Mabon was a little rough, and the Samhain after…well, it sucked. I wasn’t ready for performing rituals, my altar looked very sparse, and my Book of Shadows had almost 9 spells I had copied from Teen Witch. Things were looking very unstable and my resolve to stay Pagan was shaky at best.

As you remember in my previous post my parents were divorced when I was at a young age, so I gained the ability to travel back and forth, alternating my Christmases between Missouri and England. Now don’t get me wrong, both atmospheres were equivalent to that of “YAY! PRESENTS!” and less of, “Happy Birthday, Jesus!” But the tune played differently at my grandmother’s house. Christmas dinner, Christmas evening church, nativities, and Christmas gospel was LAW during those times. The South is strong in these ones. So you can imagine, as a Pagan, I felt almost scared. I felt like a sheep in wolf’s clothing. I accidentally bleat and I’d have snarling fangs at my throat in seconds. With all that I had learned so far about Christmas trees in the bible, or the fact that Odin/The Holly King was originally Santa Claus, it was hard to sit there and celebrate something that had it roots so far back in pre-Christian times but had been so Jesus-ified. So I did what any sane-minded Pagan would do. I sat down, shut up, and waited till I could perform a peaceful ritual in my solitude. In those days I longed for a Pagan friend so badly my heart would ache.

But just as things were starting to look more than bleak I found several friends at school who were Pagan. We bonded and I felt like my passion had been slowly lit up again. I talked to them and they all recommended books (of which I had NO way of obtaining) and to look more on the internet. So I turned to the closest source at the time, my old friend About.com. Many books from Barnes & Noble later, and years worth of inner-self reflection, here I am, ready to teach my own children one day about the joys of Yule.

I’ve never felt more at home in my own skin than knowing I’m Pagan. The bond I get to share with my ancestors is like being proud of being a Smith or a Johnson. I have a family I can be proud of because they were fighting for the same things I’m fighting for right now. And many of them died for it too. I carry the bloodline of great witches from days of old. Though I may not be physically related, I can feel their life-force inside my own. And when they would celebrate Yule because the sun was returning shortly, I celebrate Yule for the same reason.

Sometimes I’ll get invited to parties by acquaintances, but I’ll respectfully decline. And even though I do get stares and bewildered looks of confusion when I go on to tell them I don’t celebrate Christmas, I don’t get nervous anymore. I simply explain that “No, I’m not a Jehovah’s Witness, I just celebrate the very first kind of Christmas.” If they look curious I simply smile and say,

In Europe, in times of old, the winter was a very dark time so they needed celebrations to lift their spirits…”

So Is it Christmas, Yule, or the Winter Solstice?!

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So as I’ve been transitioning into the Pagan lifestyle I’ve had to sit through six Christmases. Six of them. In perspective that is six years of Easters, Christmases, and other Pagan-turned-Christian holidays that I’ve had to sit through, patiently bite my tongue, and grin as I felt out of place. I enjoy holidays and the cheer they bring out of people, but for a while after transitioning to Paganism I felt torn. Because I was raised as a Christian.

My parents divorced when I was young, I don’t remember much of it, but looking at how they are now, I’m not surprised they separated. They’re two very different people in all sense of the word, and I think it’s quite the miracle my brother and I are even alive! My father was raised in a very Southern background. He smokes a pipe, loves corn beef hash, and would pull over anytime I demanded Cracker Barrel. The only thing he lacks is a Southern accent, which my Aunt Beth picked up quite nicely! So needless to say, like most other Southern families (I’m talking Alabama here, folks) my dad’s side is Christian dominant. Whichever branch, though, I have no idea! So you can imagine they’re all about prayers before supper, church on Easter, and the picture of the American dream.

Which is where my mother comes into play! She was raised on the borderline of the South in Missouri. How borderline are you talking here? Well the first major battle of the Civil War west of the Mississippi took place only five miles away from her house! My grandmother on her side, a devout Christian, of course raised her as you would in your own footsteps. She went to church every Sunday and Wednesday, didn’t listen to anything harder than Elvis until she was 16 (though she did tell me of the time she snuck a listen to a friend’s Prince album, “It was so dirty compared to all that gospel!”), and shunned the very idea of pre-marital sex. She continued this path until a little after my parents’ divorce, when my brother and I were separated. That’s when she slowly started drifting from all she knew of bibles and Sunday school to other religions like Buddhism and atheism.

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As she’s still undecided I admire her for the way she isn’t trying to scare off the teachings of Jesus for my little sister, Adelaide. Addy is going through the young stage of (if you haven’t had much exposure to it) curiosity in religion. Mom lets her pray before dinner; I, my dad (step-dad), and my mom, all close ours eyes out of respect for her. We are all in agreeance that we have had the right to pick our own paths, so she should be able to as well. If she wants to worship Godzilla and make offerings of strawberry pancakes every Wednesday so he doesn’t destroy Tokyo, then the more power to her!

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So you can see, being raised as and by a tree-hugging, hippie, liberal I’ve gotten the opportunity to explore what is right for me spiritually. When my mom was in her church going years, I’d attend with her, but as she stopped going, so did I. I didn’t go out and start sacrificing cows to Satan, or drink my own blood. But as the years progressed, I started feeling worried.

I’ll post the second and third parts later in the week, so stay tuned if you would like to keep reading!
Remember to subscribe if you like my posts and I’ll be sure to give you more!

Hello! And Welcome!

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Welcome to my blog! My name is Bre and I’m a 20 year old blogger transplanted to the beautiful Denver Rocky Mountain area from England! I was born in Alabama but moved to Missouri shortly after. I’ve seen HALF of the united states (no joke 28 states under my belt!) and I’ve been to 5 countries in total. Sometimes you wouldn’t believe some of the things I’ve seen! I live with my boyfriend Adam, our cat Haru, and our energetic Shiba Inu Jizo, under the slopes of the majestic Rocky Mountains. I love to knit, watch animated movies, cosplay, play the harp, and want to own a farm one day!

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Image(Jizo the Shib, as we like to call him)

If I’ve intrigued you enough to stay, what you’ll find here is the ramblings, thoughts, inspirations, and joys, of this one Pagan girl. That’s right, I also forgot to mention I’m Pagan. But don’t worry, I don’t worship Satan or build houses out of candy to entice small children inside so that I could eat them (I would get fat from that!…err the candy not the children!) So stay with me if you’d like to see what the life of a Pagan is like from the inside. Or, if you already know, then hopefully my blog will give you some inspiration to lead a more magickal life!

I also will post my findings about my secret love, urban homesteading, as well as my adventures towards becoming a more successful urban homesteader! Everything from owning chickens in the city to how to keep a worm tower. There’s so much to know about homesteading and I’m fascinated by all of it! Also check out my urban homesteading board on Pinterest where I pick out some brilliant ideas from other pinners.

I already mentioned that I love to knit and you can be sure to find other crafty feats and ideas posted here a LOT. Mainly DIY’s for around the house, but interiors, decor, general “D’ohs!”, or other neat things!

Since as long as I can remember I’ve always wanted to help people and strive to be a better person. While that may be a general value for most people, it really means something to me for me to better myself. Whether it’s by planting a garden, mothering a child one day, or even helping a friend down from the ledge, I want to help this world. I’ve even considered teaching, which is a lot harder work than it sounds. In fact I’ll probably earn my degree in teaching so that I can go to Japan and teach English there. Who knows though? I’m still looking for my one true way to help.

What can you do to help me? Simply follow me on Pinterest or just follow this blog! Subscribe and pursue a life with more magick and family. I promise you it’s worth it.

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