The following post may include affiliate links. Please see our Disclosure & Privacy page for details.

Thursday, February 28

Making an Ostara Wreath

I'm craving spring and was excited to see all the pretty wreaths at department stores last week.  I'm not a huge fan of artificial flowers, but with the on-again-off-again frosts in our area, live flowers are not an option.  I looked at some of the wreaths and was shocked to find that they cost $30-$40 each.

That is not in Mama Stacey's budget right now.

Determined to still have spring flowers bedecking my door, I brainstormed.  As I brainstormed I walked past the windows of a dollar store and noticed overflowing racks of flowers.  A-ha!

I bought $10 worth of artificial flowers and scurried home. I ended up with 3 lengths of green vines, 2 bundles of spring grass with wired butterflies, 3 bundles of purple flowers, and 2 bundles of white flowers. 


I needed a wreath-form to make this work, but I was adamant that I did not need to spend anymore money to make my wreath and pulled a light-blue hanger from the closet.  I stretched it out, unraveled the hook, and made a large wire ring out of it.


Next, I took all the flower bundles and clipped the individual flowers from the wire base.



Next, I laid all the clipped flowers out around the wreath to get an idea for the pattern I'd need to use.


I filled in the gaps with the rest of my flowers.  I only used the flower stems at this point, not the spring grass picks or the greenery vines.


I then began to wrap each stem around the coat hanger ring.  I started each stem about two "wraps" after the last one. 


As I worked, the wires just sort of naturally fell into an order.  It happened quickly.  It took me no more than 15 or 20 minutes to fill the ring.


Almost done!

At this point my camera's batteries died and I had to switch to using my phone's camera.  LOL  That's the bummer with using rechargeable batteries... there never seem to be any juiced up when you need them.

When the wreath was full, I turned to the spring grass sprigs to add a nice accent to my creation.  These I did not clip as the base was held together with floral tape instead of molded plastic and wire.  I unraveled the tape and each bunch separated into 4 sprigs of "grass" and 3 wired butterflies.




I added the grass sprigs at about 4 or 5 inch intervals.  


Now, at this point, all of my flowers needed to be "faced".  It took less than a minute to bend each flower so that it faced forward on the wreath.  I did not bend the grass.


The look of my wreath changed almost instantly.


I wanted my wreath to have a fuller look yet and so I turned to three lengths of green vines.


Because these vines were not wired, I taped the start of each one.  If you have nice green floral tape, lucky you.  Mama Stacey only had masking tape, but it worked just fine.


It filled out beautifully.  I tucked a few of the wired butterflies into the wreath and hung it on the door.



My front door is covered, and so I hope it weathers well.  I'm not sure how long this would last if it was on a fully exposed door this time of year.

**UPDATE** I have this hanging on my door this year as well, 2014.  It is not faded or unraveled at all.  I did have to fluff the grass a bit after storage, but that's to be expected.

Tuesday, February 26

Images of Childhood Paganism

From the moment my beautiful son was born, I knew I was going to raise him as a Pagan.  I didn't even know what that meant (or how to do it!) but I stumbled through festivals and bought books and joined groups and left groups and attended lectures and wandered the internet... and never did it occur to me that I didn't have to really DO anything.  I just needed to live my life as a Pagan and include my son in the wonder.

As I approach the birth of my second child, I find myself reflecting on Doodle Bug's younger years and I've been flipping through photos.  Some are just delightful reflections of having Paganism in your veins and I wanted to share them with you.

2002


2003


2004

Setting up our portable altar at our group campsite during Pagan Spirit Gathering at Wisteria.


2005

Giving Ganesha a smile at the Four Quarters Interfaith Sanctuary. 



2006

A tiny Doodle Bug during an Ostara egg hunt on a local homestead. 


Apple picking for Mabon.

Pumpkin painting for Samhain.

Singing Yule carols and making pomander balls.

2007

In case you're unaware, by the fifth day of a Pagan festival, your child will be in full "free spirit" mode.
Here, Doodle Bug was loving sarongs, glow sticks, and his Jack Sparrow pirate gear. 

2008


2009


2010

Checking out the "big rock" at our Mabon campsite.


2011

Post-Beltane nature walk.


Holding the July moon.
Holding a bearded dragon at Pittsburgh Pagan Pride Day.

Marveling at new stones at Pittsburgh Pagan Pride Day.

Trying to meditate during our Mabon cabin retreat.


Sharing stories with community elders around the Mabon fire.

Painting paper mache skulls for a Day of the Dead celebration.


2012


Feeling out mommy's tarot deck at a Samhain celebration.

Pumpkin carving for Samhain.



Sunday, February 24

Craving Spring in the House of Mama Stacey


It's not warm here in northwestern Pennsylvania.  We still get snow flurries and freezing rain a lot as February is drawing to a close, BUT I know that it could be much worse.  We're not knee-deep in snow.  The car isn't frozen shut most mornings.  If you dare to step outside without reason, you can no longer see your breath after noon or so.  


Every fourth or fifth day though, the subtle signs of spring are there.  My partner and I broke our hoodies out last weekend and two days ago I heard birds singing while I was making my morning cup of chai.  The gray is still here, but it's waning.   

Spring will be here soon, I'm certain.

A rather blurry photo of Mama Stacey
34 weeks pregnant.
So will our baby girl.  This has been a rough pregnancy and our home life here in the House of Mama Stacey has been bumpy.  As the saying goes... if mama ain't happy, ain't no one happy.

Our family dynamic is shifting and Doodle Bug has been sensitive to those ripples.  He's had some surprising behaviors lately.  Luckily, he has a very stable environment at school and a close, trusting relationship with not only his teacher, but the school's psychologist and the principle.  They've all been working with him to take things in stride.

My partner had high hopes for family financially this spring, but lost his job shortly after New Years and it's thrown us for a loop.  He's back at work as of this week, but the financial lag has been a steep one.  He's handling these stresses by invoking his right as a Leo to be pridefully stubborn about even the smallest of things.  ::sigh::  It will pass.





As for Mama Stacey, I'm entering my 8th month and I'm downright sore and grumpy.

Our small apartment has been undergoing transitions too.  We'd had high hopes for moving into a house before our daughter's arrival, but real life kicked that dream's butt and so we are having to make due.  We've been packing away things and rearranging furniture.  I'm sad to have to put so much of our beautiful furniture into storage and to have to pack away shelves of vintage glassware or antiques so that we can make room for her things... but I'm sure that once we lay eyes on our daughter, all that will fade away. 

Friends and family have been overwhelmingly generous with their gift giving in our daughter's honor.  Our tax return was cushier than expected and we got some fantastic legal news the other day.  We're starting to see that spring and summer are lining up to be ripe and joyful times for us here in the House of Mama Stacey. 

I look forward to giving birth as I'm excited to meet our baby girl.  Her birth is a beacon in my mind, a sign of my life gaining momentum, and will mark the completion of another phase.  I have this wonderful feeling that this will be a rather refreshing and life-affirming year... once I get there. For now, I feel a bit stalled out.  Gray days, sore joints, and an unending stream of doctor's appointments have left me feeling out of sync with the turning of the wheel.

 I am craving the changes that her birth will bring.  I look forward to having abdominal muscles again.  I will be over-joyed to be able to do laundry or tackle a project without needing my partner to help me lift things.  I am excited for baby snuggles and can't wait to watch my partner fall in love with his daughter.  He and Doodle Bug are close, but theirs is still a step-father/step-son relationship with its limits.  I am excited for new clothes and traveling this summer.  I pour over the pages of seed catalogs lately and day dream about roasting vegetables on the grill while dancing to the tunes of Jimmy Buffett.  I can't wait to join my girlfriends in a glass of wine while we sit in a hot tub. 

Mama Stacey has spent a lot of time cooped up on the couch lately, with either a bottle of Tums, Tylenol, or Glyburide.  I cruise plus-size clothing websites and can't wait to get the okay from my partner to buy some summer clothing for us all.  I love new sandals and summer skirts and glittery sunglasses and new swimwear.  I love the smell of unpacking blueberry plants and rose bushes from their shipping containers.  And I'm absolutely certain I will love the smell of my daughter's head while we snuggle into a deep chair to nurse.

Today is dull.  Tomorrow is looking fantastic!

P.S... one of the brilliant skirts I'm eyeing for summer...

Embellished Skirt

Ostara Pancakes!

Something about both Imbolc and Ostara make me excited about breakfast foods.  Perhaps it's the symbolic link about the wakening of the year that makes me link it to morning foods, or maybe the dinginess of wintertime in Pennsylvania makes me avoid nighttime celebration.  I like being active in the daylight!

In any case, I thought I'd share the idea of Ostara pancakes with you.  These are pancakes decorated as if they were Ostara eggs.  This activity is best tackled on a Saturday or Sunday morning when you have a more relaxed atmosphere due to the lack of a hurry-and-get-ready-for-school rush. 

There are a few ways of tackling Ostara pancakes.  Food coloring is one.

Amanda, from My Little Crafty Corner, used gel coloring in some divided pancake batter to dish this up to her family.  Liquid food coloring should work just as well, although the colors may be a tad less intense.  

[img source: My Little Crafty Corner]


Rebecca's Sweet Escapes shows you how to bake colored designs right into your pancakes. 

[img source: Rebecca's Sweet Escapes]

Food coloring phobic?  That's okay.  Another method is to crowd the table with diced fruit, yogurt, natural syrups, fruit spreads, and nut butters.  Let your children decorate their pancake the way you'd decorate a boiled egg.

Aarean over at Color Issue shares these delightful designs that she and her daughter came up with last year.  Click on the link to see a detailed list of what she included on each egg-shaped pancake as well as a pancake recipe that includes yogurt.

[img source: Color Issue]


Saturday, February 23

Creating Traditions

For most of us, the word "tradition" conjures thoughts of something old, something timeless.  Traditions tend to be thought of as practices that no one can remember or reliably explain the reasons for.  Turns out, it's quite the opposite.  Traditions are usually purposefully created and are rarely as ancient as we perceive them to be.  

Did you know that most family traditions only exist for the span of one or two generations?  The traditions your great-grandparents participated in are probably nothing like the ones that you participate in today.  For example, my grandmother had 9 children.  At Christmas the children's most prized gift was a full stocking.  Larger gifts under the tree were rare, but bags of cookies, small toys, books, and handmade socks were the cat's pajamas!  My mother continued the tradition of overflowing stockings as the highlight of the day when my siblings and I were young.  It was the one thing we were allowed to have before dressing for church and we savored the sweets all morning and played with the small toys during mass.  However, as the years went by our church attendance faded and our under-the-tree gifts became more elaborate.  Near the end of my time living at home our stockings were used to hold the batteries for all of our toys with a little bit of candy sprinkled on top.  When I had my son, I did not continue the tradition of stockings at all.  In the House of Mama Stacey, we simply don't hang them.

Pagans & Tradition


If you think about it, the lifespan of your average tradition makes particular sense for Pagans.  In America, modern Paganism is only about sixty years old.  Practitioners have spent those years cultivating definitions and methods for "being Pagan" along with doing research into the origins of our different flavors and paths.  This time has also been spent in the fight for tolerance and religious rights for Pagans.  

The traditions of 1950's Pagans are indeed not what Pagan families of today practice.  Mom most likely doesn't stand in the center of her family circle, sky-clad and bedecked with a glorious crown, hands raised to the heavens as the attempts to channel Brigid.  She is much more apt to be seated on the floor before the altar with a child in her lap, a cat lazily wandering in and out of circle as she teaches her little one the marvel of weaving a Brigid's cross.  And that's okay.

Left: Maxine Sanders, wife of Alex Sanders, in ritual during the 1960's.
Right: A mother and child sharing a seasonal story during a modern, relaxed sabbat.

As parents of the next generation, it is our job to fine tune things and invent traditions.

One of my favorite Pagan parenting blogs is hosted by Many Hands House, aka "The Pagan Family".  If you attend a festival anywhere in the midwest you may have even had the chance to meet Melanie, Chris and their children.  They have a reputation for down-home Paganism and are the envy of many a witchy family.  

The matron of the Many Hands clan once reflected on the evolution of traditions in her household.  She cleverly noted that our children look to us when holidays approach.  

"Your child has no preconceived notions about what should be happening .... You have creative license. But choose carefully. What you do now will be what you are doing for your grandchildren and great grandchildren." ~ Melanie of Many Hands House


We are the lead generation.  It is our job to invent traditions and show our children how to celebrate not as an isolated adult tucked inside of a coven, but as a family.  Our little ones are the second generation.  It is their job to internalize these things and, later in life, modernize and transform them for future generations. 

What is a Tradition?


When you break traditions down, they do have specific qualities.  

1.  For starters, traditions have rules.  These may be precise or vague, but they're still rules.  For instance, we don’t blow our horns and throw confetti around midnight on December 31st; this practice is strictly to be done on the exact stroke of midnight.  This is a precise rule, however timing for the American tradition of ‘spring cleaning’ is vague.  Spring cleaning can be done anytime from February to June, if one participates at all.   

2.  Further, traditions have a quality of symbolism or a ritualistic nature that is quite often void of practicality... such as the inclusion of white gloves and a sword  on a US Marine's dress uniform.  I'm sure it's been quite a while since a Marine has been challenged to a gentlemanly duel.  British cavalry uniforms still include golden spurs, even though I'm fairly certain they no longer ride horses into battle.  

3.  Traditions are invented.  They come about as a response to some sort of social change, like a parent raising their children in a new religion.  As the traditions are repeated and ritualized, they create their own history.  As time goes by, people will dig into history and link new traditions to something from antiquity as a means of creating heritage and thereby stability.  In a chaotic world, this is how our traditions ground us and extend to us a sense of security.  

4.  And finally, traditions must be purposefully repeated.  How else do they become traditions?  


Inventing Your Own Traditions

Do you have to dye eggs at the Equinox?  No, but you should have some sort of craft or activity that you and your children partake in every  Ostara.  

In her blog, Melanie went on to comment that she can't remember exactly how a majority of their family's sabbat traditions started.  She wasn't even sure what traditions her family had until her grown children visited for Yule one year and asked to make "sun sandwiches", something she and her husband had thrown together on a whim well over a decade before.  

So, as time goes by, even if you don't remember, know that your children will.  For Many Hands House, candle making and Vegetarian Irish Stew will be celebrated in their home at Imbolc for many generations simply because that is what her children recognize as hallmarks of the day.   

Doodle Bug's first year in the top bunk, Mabon 2010.
In the House of Mama Stacey, Doodle Bug knows that we spend Mabon at a cabin in the woods, crafting, baking, and hiking.  He knows that no matter what, we always spend Yule in our pajamas and host a huge day-long open house and buffet for local Pagan families to gather.  Our newest bundle of joy will grow up in a home where the first family cookout of the year is always held on Ostara.  

What will you create for your children and your children's children?


Friday, February 15

Surprise Things to Do with Plastic Eggs


Egg-shaped Popsicles

These beauties are made from Vitamin Water, but I suppose you could use anything you wish.  In the House of Mama Stacey, we're fond of using freshly brewed green tea with honey in it.   Brit & Co.'s website has step-by-step instructions on how to insert the straws into the base. 

[img source: Brit & Co.]

And in case you don't have time to mess with sticks and straws, these can be enjoyed as is with a spoon in a bowl.

[img source: Brit & Co.]


Mailing Ostara Eggs

Have you ever thought of mailing an Ostara surprise to someone special?  I never knew that those large plastic eggs can be mailed as is.  Check out these websites for more details: Making Memories With Your Kids and Giver's Log.

[img source: Making Memories With Your Kids]
 Just look at all the fun things you can stuff in these guys! 

[img source: Giver's Log]

Word Family Eggs

As most of you know, Doodle Bug has a learning delay.  He's in 4th grade, but still works on items your average kindergartener or 1st grader would.  This craft caught my eye because I recognized the word families on them.  He practices this stuff everyday and is retaining more and more as he continues on the path to reading.  If you're a homeschooler, you probably know all about word families, but if this phrase is new to you, I think you'll catch on quickly.

Word families are groups of words with the same ending.  Children learn to rhyme by using word families and learn to put emphasis the beginning syllable/sound of a word (something children like Doodle Bug tend to leave off of words in normal conversation).  Currently, our little guy is working on the "IT" family.  His homework deals a lot with words like: 'kit', 'sit', 'knit', 'bit' and so on.

Parentella used large foam letters and I think for children just starting out, these are terrific.

[img source: Parentella]

Nurture Creek kicked things up a notch by making these into a sort of word dial and adding a prize inside the egg for a child who can read each word on the egg.  I may just have to pass this idea on to Doodle Bug's teacher.  I think it's just nifty as punch!

[img source: Nurture Creek]

Rhythm Shakers

Rice, beans, plastic beads... jam them into a plastic egg for a great kid-friendly percussion instrument.  Check out Muffin Tin Mom's blog for tips on how to seal these and decorate them.

[img source: Muffin Tin Mom]
Family Sponge got creative with fillers for these so that children can make an entire array of different sounds with their shakers.

[img source: Family Sponge]

Make a Marionette

Dollar Store Mom offers this cute little craft.  For instructions and tips, make sure the check out the link.

[img source: Dollar Store Mom]

Ostara Garland

Camilla over at Family Chic offers up this simple pairing of plastic eggs and yarn in order to create a charming string of garland.  If your eggs don't want to stay shut, a dot of tacky glue wouldn't hurt.  And by all means, jazz these up with glitter, or string artificial flowers on there too!

[img source: Family Chic]

Egg Bugs

Vanessa from Tried & True came up with these cute little guys.  She used them as window decorations for spring, but I think they would be cute in a child's Ostara basket just the same.

[img source: Tried & True]

You can find these and oodles more craft ideas and ways to upcycle plastic eggs on Mama Stacey's Ostara Activities Pinterest page.  Happy Spring!