Fall Into the Holidays #5

I’m back from Rhinebeck! I’ve already started spinning up the spoils, I’ve come up with a way of housing my new orifice hook so it shouldn’t go missing again, and I’m contemplating future knitting projects.

Time to start thinking autumn, holidays, and changing seasons! Feel free to share your seasonal recipes, diy, crafts, and other related material. Link up as many new or archived posts as you would like.

I’ll be pinning all entries linked up to the Fall Into the Holidays board-please let me know if you want to be removed.

Features will be stumbled.

Please link to entries, and not your blog main page.

Featured Links

The Pin Junkie’s Crock Pot BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwich

The Athletic Avocado’s Easy Homemade-Pumpkin Cranberry Butter

Click on the button that looks like a blue frog at the bottom of the page to view the collection.

By linking up to Fall Into the Holidays you are allowing the use of 1 photo from your entry as a possible feature.

Please link to entries, and not your blog main page.

Click around the list and leave a few comments!

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The Dark Side of Blogging: Why Blogging Shouldn’t Define You

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I’m driving myself insane.

I wish I meant that as an exaggeration, but there is a large chunk of me that is contemplating walking away from blogging for a very long time.

I need to re-center myself, and I need to not make this blog the center of that being.

One of the warnings that some of the more experienced bloggers will give you, and I think that it really needs to be stressed again, is that you need to be a person that blogs, not a blogger-or you’re rapidly going to find yourself frustrated, hurt, and ultimately dissatisfied with something that should be an enjoyable experience.

A lot of bloggers will monetize, and then they spend their time chasing statistics. I don’t monetize in part because I don’t want that pressure-but I don’t avoid my statistics and that’s part of the issue. I have somehow linked my value as a person to the number of hits I get in a day (because that’s totally logical, am I right? Your voice is only worth reading if it gets 1,000 hits an hour, isn’t that a truth?)

Of course it’s not. And the blogging world has gotten a little whackadoodle over the whole thing. A blogger that I respect pointed out recently that part of the problem with the blogging world is how similar its become-there really is no thing as a voice. It’s the same three giveaways working their way around, the same sponsors asking people to make cheese dishes, the same themes showing up at the same time.

I admit that maybe I’m swimming against the stream, but it’s very frustrating to put a lot of time (a LOT of time, when this isn’t your primary job)  to then feel like I’m failing. For something that’s supposed to be a stress relief and an outlet, it causes a LOT of stress. So much second guessing, so much wondering, so much questioning. I’m not saying that it shouldn’t be an effort, but I shouldn’t feel like less of a person because I haven’t hit on the ‘perfect’ balance of PR and the rest of my life to get 5,000 people to want to link up to my blog hops.

Here is the question that needs to be asked when you start thinking that because your blog is slow (or no one wants to link up to your blog hop, or someone makes a snide comment on Pinterest about your photography): who would you be if your blog was just to disappear? What would you want to be known for if you woke up and the Internet just didn’t exist? Those are the things that are important, not the statistics of your blog. If you run a blog hop, can you tell someone how many people linked up to the entry the 3rd week in October last year without looking it up? That’s the point: if in six months, or a year, or five years, you can’t remember  your day to day statistics, then it shouldn’t be front and center of your social life.

I really don’t want someone to stand up at my funeral and say, Katie was an awesome blogger. The world is a better place because she tried to run two blog hops a week. Such dedication. And man, did she know how to run Picmonkey. I want them to talk about my volunteer activities, my dedication to my friends, maybe my intelligence or grace.

This is a very large Internet, and people flow like water-just because they’re not here now doesn’t mean that they won’t ever be. Don’t let the darker parts of blogging steal your light.

For the sake of full disclosure, it’s not just this blog that’s suffering. I burned a cake for the first time in close to a year. It’s been a frustrating day all the way around.

Crossroads

things that go bump in the night

Hecate

Papa Legba

Ganesha

Hecate

Hermes

Eshu (though Ellegua, Legba, and Eshu are  derived from the same deity but function in extremely different, those still related, ways)

Maximon

Chimata-No-Kami

Do not, and I repeat, do not, blunder into the crossroads lightly. Do not interfere with liminal magic without knowing full well what you’re getting into. The shadows shift there, nothing is as it seems. Of all the folk magics you can get entangled with, this is the one that’s the most like Alice’s Caterpillar-And WHO are YOU?

—–

Humans do not like what I call the in-between and what Jim Butcher calls the NeverNever. We do not like doorways, we do not like dusk, we do not like crossroads. We do not like places that we can’t see our footing in-and in folk magic, the crossroads is right up there on the top of the list of shadowy, shifting places. The only other place that may be more charged in this manner may be the entrance to a graveyard (I almost placed Baron Samedi and his many faces on that list as well, but graveyard and death energy is actually fundamentally different from crossroads energy).

But why? Why are we so afraid of these places?

Because of the potential-and the potential of getting stuck, or getting stuck wandering throughout reality with no set ‘road’.

That’s what the crossroads ultimately represents-the potential. The fact that you are presented with at least five choices-each of the four roads, and the point in the middle-means that all things are fluid here. You also can’t see what’s coming from at least one road all of the time.

To be liminal, an energy has to be stuck in a state of flux. This is almost the Schroedinger’s cat of folkloric thought. The liminal places are those that are in between two states-life and death, future and past, change or continuation. In the positive, the crossroads can be used to pull positive change in a situation. Lord Ganesha likes to open roads for people to succeed. Hecate is used to aid women in childbirth as much as she’s known for her role in witchcraft. The crossroads can be used to summon new skills, new business ventures, money, move out negative energies, and just generally introduce new and cleaner energies into your life.

Or it can be used to summon up demons, death himself, the devil himself, sell your soul for skills, lay curses, bury the unclean dead, trap wandering spirits, bury those accused of vampirism and lycanthropy, work roots, hexes, conjures, and other roots, and otherwise just cause general mischief and misanthropy. Supposedly Robert Johnson knew exactly who the black man he met at the crossroads was, he just didn’t care.

Further, there’s an aspect to crossroad belief that is hugely important but always seems to be left out of conversations of crossroads work: the price. These are not favors that are given away for free, though with some figures the price is slightly lower than others. Ganesha likes when I leave him spare change in the penny cups at the gas station. However, never, and I repeat, never, pick up money you find in a crossroads. Some energies like literal cash as payment and that money belongs to someone else. I wouldn’t want to anger him, personally. Depending on the faith that the belief is coming out of-in Christian folklore, Johnson’s black man was actually the devil-the price can be your soul.

When you’re a folklorist who lives wedged between four crossroads, you tend to learn the legends.

Shuffling Off to Rhinebeck-Part 2

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So I’m back home, complete with the spoils of war.

There will, however, be no photos. Gasp! My phone spent so much time looking for a signal on the way down there that it just gave up and died. I didn’t want to lug [Mid's] Nikon around in that crowd.

That might as well be the place to start-yes, Rhinebeck gets terribly, terribly crowded. It was like the entire population of Kenmore was in the line for the fried artichokes. There are reasons I have yet to actually get the fried artichokes. However, I feel like the crowds this year were actually not horrible. I don’t know if it was because I was expecting entire population of Utica to show up this year, if I’ve finally developed something like crowd patience, or if the general attitude of the crowd was more live and let live than in years past [I've gone with people who have had stuff yanked out of their hands because oh my god dye lot. Calm yourselves, people, there are plenty of sheep in the world].

However- the New York State Sheep and Wool Festival [what people mean when they say 'going to Rhinebeck'] is the largest fiber event in the state, and it’s rapidly gaining ground in terms of size against national events. You have to go expecting massive crowds. It’s just a given. There are truly lovely smaller events to go to if you don’t like crowds. My only request in light of that is please be aware that you’re going into a huge amount of people so please try to be aware of your general footprint. This might not be the place for your cutesy, giant, handwoven basket you use for the farmer’s market.

I’ve been doing Rhinebeck since I was in high school so while I’m not quite at the ‘nothing new under the sun’ level, I’m past the big-eyed wonder stage so these are my general observations for this year, in no particular order:

1. Cosplaying. I would not have thought that Rhinebeck would be the place to attract cosplayers. I was wrong.

2. The general age of the population has veered heavily towards my age and younger. From things I was overhearing when I lost my mom [see point 3 forthcoming], this apparently was a point of angst for some of the older patrons. I have my feelings on that matter, but that may be a later entry.

3. I lost my mom. For two hours. That whole ‘thousands of people on the fairground’ thing. I was actually proud of myself for not freaking out, because if nothing else, eventually the event would close and we’d both end up back at the car.

4. So many veiled knitters (if you’re new to the blog, I cover my hair full time in public). So many veiled knitters. Did my heart good to see it.

5. So many men. That too made me happy, we could use a gender balance in the subculture.

6. Not so many wheels or spindles-I saw one vendor selling orifice hooks which was the one item I actually needed from this event. A ton of loose fiber, which was great, not so much on the hardware.

7. What happened to all the Icelandic? That was the one fiber I really wanted and I think I found three vendors that were actually selling it. That may be related to point 8, though.

8. Rhinebeck is a lot easier if you’re willing to work with the crowds and skip vendors.  Either go back to them or just keep walking. I’m sure Dragonfly and Loop have lovely stuff. I’m not standing in a line 25 people deep to see it when there’s 10 buildings full of lovely stuff to look at.

9. True to trend, it snowed at my parent’s house this weekend. It can’t be Rhinebeck weekend if it doesn’t.

Overall though I got some lovely fiber, stayed within my price per ounce caps and my personal rules (no spun yarn, no dyed fiber, and don’t come home without an orifice hook), and actually had a good time.

Loosing my mom for two hours notwithstanding.

*A potentially unnecessary apology-there were a fair number of people who acted as though they knew me but didn’t approach me. If you were waiting for me to do it and I didn’t, I’m face blind and there’s a strong possibility that I didn’t recognize you. If that ever happens again just walk up to me and say something.

Honeyed Cranberries

honeyed

Fermented foods are getting their time in the sun.
Again.
This happens every so often.
What I may say may just
change your mind on fermented food if your only exposure is half sour pickles and kimchi: fermentation can be sweet.
And insanely, incredibly simple.

I love honey ferments. They’re fast, adjustable, and tasty. I use them in place of jam, in tea…straight off a spoon. ..

*There’s no photo because I used buckwheat honey and well…the jar is effectively black. Not exactly photo quality.

Honeyed Cranberries
1 bag fresh, whole cranberries
1-2 jars honey, preferably raw, larger jars need less jars
1 pint jar with lid, or equivalent glass jar with lid

Fill your clean jar with whole, healthy looking berries
Slowly cover with honey until all berries are covered. Let it sit and check, adding more honey as necessary.
Store in the fridge, pulling out and flipping over to recoat the top berries with honey every other day or so. There shouldn’t be any issues with gas building up, but burp your jar every so often anyway to be safe.

The berries may start macerating and releasing juice, making the honey runny. That’s fine.

Fall Into the Holidays #4

Have you had any seasonal fun yet?

I’m headed to the New York State Sheep and Wool Festival in Rhinebeck this weekend. I haven’t been a few years. I need a new orifice hook, and some more Icelandic would be lovely.

Time to start thinking autumn, holidays, and changing seasons! Feel free to share your seasonal recipes, diy, crafts, and other related material. Link up as many new or archived posts as you would like.

I’ll be pinning all entries linked up to the Fall Into the Holidays board-please let me know if you want to be removed.

Features will be stumbled.

Please link to entries, and not your blog main page.

Featured Links

Sadie Seasongood’s Light Cover Ghosts

Made In a Day’s Halloween Chalk Art Printable

Click on the button that looks like a blue frog at the bottom of the page to view the collection.

By linking up to Fall Into the Holidays you are allowing the use of 1 photo from your entry as a possible feature.

Please link to entries, and not your blog main page.

Click around the list and leave a few comments!

I’d love if you would follow Horrific Knits on Facebook, Twitter or by email!

(Signing up puts you on a list for an email notification of future rounds. Please respond if you would not like to receive notifications either now or in the future. Thanks so much!)

The Best Chocolate Cake. Ever. Seriously. Ever.

cake shamingWhat…what are you doing Katie.

What is that sad looking excuse of a cake sitting there?

…That’s why I don’t ever show you what my cakes look like. Seriously. I am the world’s worst froster. I don’t wait until the frosting is warm enough or the cake is cool enough. Those brown specks are the frosting deciding to attack the cake like allergens in the immune system.

I’m showing you this lest you think I think everything I touch turns to gold.

[Honestly...Mid normally frosts the cakes. For a reason.]

Seriously though.

This cake.

I don’t scratch bake cakes that often because I think they’re terrible. I don’t like my own cakes.

Until this cake. This cake is everything I think cake should be-moist, awesome crumb, deep flavor. And it gets better the next day. It’s so awesome I’m just going to route you back to Foodess and you can tell her how awesome I think her cake is.

Because it’s totally changed my stance on my own homemade chocolate cakes.

Hecate

things that go bump in the night

I might as well call this the Year of the Teeth, because I’m finding in the midst of thing with very big teeth. Darkness is one of those things that you only fear when it’s unknown.

Blah blah blah metaphysical blah. Anyway. I like the goddesses that run to the dark end of the spectrum. I’m not really sure why there’s so much emphasis on goddesses that can help you with happy things. I don’t really have a lot of trouble with the ‘happy things’, it’s the ‘how the hells am I going to pay rent’ and ‘how do I get this monkey off my back’ and ‘how do I learn how to grieve’ that I need help with.

If you’re going to start naming ‘dark’ goddesses, Hecate tends to be right up there near the top in her crone aspect. She is in fact a goddess of witchcraft-but sort of like Freya, you’re not getting the full picture if you only use her in that regard. Somewhere along the way, for reasons that I do actually have something of a grasp on, a lot of her job requirements were stripped away and she was left with something like the witch stereotype that’s so prevalent this time of year.

However, Hecate is actually sort of a heavy duty deity-as long as you’re not looking for the entirely bright and pleasant. Hecate is actually a triple-faced goddess-though it should be noted that she most likely did not start out that way, meaning that she can express in at least three main forms. Her signs, at least according to some sources, were the torch, the keys, and dogs. I do feel the need, however, as at least a quasi-social historian, to remind everyone that when dealing with deities from cultures that have been gone for millennium,  what the Greeks associated with her may have been different. This is the best that we’ve come up with-and that’s without touching the whole ‘how I PERSONALLY perceive her’ nonsense that tends to go on in modern work.

The easiest way to think of Hecate is that she is the Lady of the in-between and the hidden. She was associated with hearthwork-in Athens she was a hearth deity who was used to bless the family and the home. She was used for magic and similar works, but she was also used to protect women and children (especially women in childbirth), travelers, the poor, and to a point, the underworld. She was associated with certain poisonous plants. Hecate was sometimes placed in the role of the psychopomp-she was appointed Persephone’s guide in her original descent into the underworld. Some of these associations are most likely modern. With at least some awareness of my own hypocrisy, it’s hard to find her associations that don’t come from a blog with a heavily Pagan title.

However, even with her associations with darkness, night, and some of the darker magics, she was and is very much seen as a protector entity. The emphasis on the witch mythos, with the further emphasis on malignant activity, is very much a modern association. While she was in fact associated with underworld and spirits-it is much more likely that she was used to actually ward off and protect a home from spirits and the unsettled dead. At the very least, the use of Hecate as a protective entity was probably as likely. Take a much later culture, an established history of doing odd things to women and representations of women, and a deity that has direct connections to death and the underworld, and you have an equation  to start mutating Hecate’s representations much later in European history. The current emphasis on Hecate as crone is probably not helping-Baba Yaga has faced the same process, where whatever good she did was overshadowed by her less pleasant, more aggressive tendencies.

More Reading

Hecate

Three Products Towards Cleaner Laundry

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Not the most exciting post, I know.

But dirty-and I mean, dirty-laundry has been my migraine trigger for the last month.

Mid got a new job, and he likes it, which means I like it. But one of his tasks is unpacking the truck when he’s not doing his main job.

And I swear he gets down on the floor and rolls around on it.

I’m not joking. I’ve been trying to figure out how, as someone that’s worked a job like that, he manages to get as nasty as he does.

And what is he unloading, exactly? Two stroke motor oil and tires.

After a lot of blood, sweat, tears, profanity (we are talking about me and my notorious potty mouth after all) and experimentation-here are the three products I’ve found that actually work, and how I go about using them. Note: I don’t have any connection to these products, other than driving my Facebook flist crazy looking for laundry advice.

Step 1/Product 1: Blue Dawn dish soap

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My first step when I get home at night is to soak his shirts in a very, very, very hot bath with regular old blue Dawn dish soap. If they use it to clean penguins in oil spills [I don't know if they actually do that but it was on a Dawn commercial once and stuck with me], I’ll use it to fight really nasty grease stains.

Steps 1a and 2/Product 2: Gojo Hand Cleaner

Yes.

The goo that they use in garages to clean their hands.

Don’t be afraid of an oil based product.

If I have time (or if I”m washing his shirts by hand that day for whatever reason) I’ll run the hottest water I can get out of the tap with Dawn and prep a wash bucket. I slap the Gojo onto the stain and let it sit for a couple of minutes. And I do mean slap, I just paint that stuff on like stucco.

I soak the shirt in the hot water/Dawn then rinse in warm water until I get a clean rinse. If you have any experience handwashing woolens, you’re effectively doing the same thing.

*Do use hot water. Hot water is why you can get away with using an oil based product on your clothes. I’ve used cold washes before I knew better and it came out fine but you have less of a risk on your clothes with hot. This is pretty much the only time I advocate hot water.

Hang to dry.

Step 3/Product 3: Tide

If you see that the stain is really stubborn, use more Gojo and then wash with Tide.

Tide. By name, Tide. Not just whatever the cheapest laundry soap you can find (which is admittedly what I use for our normal wash). Tide is the -only- detergent that seems to lift the grime.

Remember to use the hottest water you can for the clothing you’re washing.

 

Trust me on this, I’ve saved myself a lot of aggression, passive and otherwise, with this combination.