I want to begin by saying there isn’t anything wrong with store bought pie crusts. They are cheap, easy and quick. But you know what else is cheap, easy and quick? Making your own pie crusts. And yes, you can even make them ahead of time and freeze them for convenience.
WHAT YOU NEED
2 cups flour
¾ cup shortening (I use butter flavored)
¼ cup cold water
Dash of salt
See? Easy peasy.
Use a pastry cutter or a kitchen aid if you have one. If not use your bare hands to blend the shortening, flour and salt together until it resembles a fine crumble. You want the shortening and flour to be completely incorporated together.
Add the cold water and mix well until a firm ball of dough is formed. If the crust seems too crumbly, you can add just a tiny bit of water at a time until the proper consistency is found. If you add too much water and the dough is super wet, then add just a tiny bit of flour.
Once the dough ball is formed, let it sit for a bit to rest, about ten minutes. Sprinkle some flour on a clean counter top and flour your rolling pin to prevent sticking. Roll out your dough as round as you can make it. I usually hold the pie plate over it to make sure I have enough. Carefully transfer the crust into the pie plate by rolling it halfway onto the pin.
Cut off the access crust around the edge of the pan and poke a few holes in the bottom of the crust to keep it from bubbling up. Also, you can get fancy and flute the edging of the crust. This is done with your knuckles like this: (photo demonstration). You can also use a fork, depending on what kind of design you want. There are tons of creative options. This stock photo is a great example of the fork method. It also helps seal a top crust if you’re using one 🙂
And you’re done. Wasn’t that super easy? 🙂 If you aren’t using the crust right away, you can wrap it up well and store it in the freezer.
Wash the mug thoroughly and make sure it’s nice and dry before you hand it over to the kiddos. We did this craft a few months ago for Father’s Day, so I used the stickers to spell out ‘Best Daddy’ and let her color over the letters. Since my little girl was about a month shy of three when we did this, I let her pick which colors she wanted to use and I held the mug for her while she scribbled. Once she was done, I let the mug dry for a few minutes before I peeled the stickers off. The oil sharpies bled around the edges a bit, but I used cheap stickers I had lying around from years ago so that’s what I was expecting. For the homemade touch of a Father’s Day gift from the kids, it was perfectly fine that the lettering didn’t come out as crisp and clean as if I was making it as a gift for an adult by an adult.
After the little one is done coloring on the mug, let it sit overnight to allow the paint to properly adhere to the mug. Then you’ll want to put the mug in the oven while it’s still cold and then turn the oven to 300 degrees for about an hour. Other bloggers have done tests on how long the mug needs to stay in the oven and at what temperature, from my research this is the best bet to make sure the paint is baked into the mug and doesn’t bubble up. Which is why it’s important to get a matte finished mug rather than a gloss, since the paint doesn’t adhere to the gloss as well as the matte finish.
After the hour and a half has passed, turn the oven off and let the mug cool down in the oven. Once the oven and mug are both cold again, you’re all done! I haven’t attempted putting this creation in the dishwasher, so I can’t say how well it holds up. I would stick to hand washing just to make sure the art your kiddo worked so hard on doesn’t get ruined.
A wreath is such a festive and creative addition to your front door, and not just during the winter time! Wreaths have been used by various cultures since ancient times in southern Europe, primarily Greece and Rome. Modern day wreaths are used to symbolize winter holidays such as Yule and Christmas, the harvest season, and pretty much every holiday in between. I personally love wreaths to symbolize the seasons because it’s one of the first things people see when they approach your home. They are a warm and welcoming way to invite your guests in and show off your creative spirit.
I change my wreaths up four times a year during spring, summer, fall and winter. Recently, I took the purple and yellow tulips and little bird’s nest with robin’s eggs off my grape vine wreath and replaced them with summer decor.
While the pre-made wreaths you can get at the store are absolutely stunning, they’re also expensive and not much room for customization. So I opted for a bare, brown vine wreath and every season, I add my own special touch.
Summertime to me is all about citrus and yellow and orange flowers, so that’s the route I took. The bright colors from the embellishments stand out boldly against the white door of my rental home and are easily seen from the street, so even those who are just driving by can admire my handiwork from afar.
Supplies you need:
Plain grape vine wreath (Available year round at Michael’s).
A wreath hanger (I got mine for a few dollars at Wal Mart).
Decorative flowers and embellishments of your choice
Small floral wire cutters
Floral tape (Optional).
I trim the decorative flowers so that most of the stem is gone but there is still enough stem left to tuck into the grapevines and hold the flowers into place. You want to make sure the flowers are poked into the wreath snug enough that they don’t fall out or blow away when it gets windy but you also don’t want the stems to stick out the other side of the wreath. You can always use floral tape to help hold them into place, but I’ve never had an issue with sticking the flowers in snug. I stay away from hot gluing the flowers and decor into place because then you can’t reuse the wreath for the next holiday/season. It’s much easier to store a small bag of wreath decorations for each holiday than it is to store an entire wreath for each holiday. I also try to decorate the wreath in quarters rather than bunch everything together. You want your wreath to look full but you also want it to look symmetrical.
Get creative! This is your time to use whatever flowers and additional decor you want! There are all kinds of examples on Pinterest to use for inspiration. You don’t even have to use flowers if you’d rather use a garden hose or ribbon, whatever your heart desires and your brain inspires.
This time of year, the fruit selection at the stores are at their peak! While we are fortunate enough to get berries all year round, there is something about late spring going into summer that yearns for a sweet bowl of mixed fruit. What better way to serve up that craving than in a delicious oatmeal crumble topped cobbler with a warm, flaky pie crust? I vowed when I began blogging, none of my recipe blogs would start off with paragraphs about my great aunt Martha and how she won the county fair seventeen years in a row with this recipe, so here is what you need to make my version of an old favorite.
Crust (makes one pie crust):
1 cup flour
⅓ cup shortening
¼ cup cold water
A pinch of salt
1 ½ cup strawberries
1 ⅓ cup blueberries
1 cup blackberries (one 6 oz container)
1 cup raspberries (one 6 oz container)
Juice and zest from ½ a lemon
¼-⅓ cup sugar
4 tbsp instant tapioca
1 cup of quick oats
2 tbsp brown sugar
4 tbsp softened butter
**You can also use 3 packets of instant oatmeal if you don’t have the quick oats, just leave out the brown sugar and you’re good to go!
Mix the flour, salt and shortening together in a large mixing bowl until well combined and clumped together. Add in the water and mix well. This is where I eyeball the dough (honestly, I never use recipes, so be patient with me). You want to pie crust to form a firm ball in the mixer, if the dough is sticking to the sides then it has too much water and needs a bit of flour to even out. If the dough is still clumpy looking or you can still see bits of flour, add a tiny bit more water and mix well. It’s all a balancing act but homemade pie crust is much easier than it appears! Be confident and use your instinct.
Once the dough is well mixed, put some flour on your clean counter top and roll out with dough using a rolling pin. Make sure to flour the rolling pin too so it won’t stick. Roll the dough into a square and transfer, very carefully, into a 9 x 9 baking pan. Form the pie crust into the shape of the pan, making sure it goes all the way up the sides of the pan so the crust holds in all the delicious cobbler filling. Poke a few holes in the crust with a fork to prevent bubbles. Put the crust into the oven at 350 until the crust is a light golden brown, about 20-25 minutes depending on your oven.
While the crust is in the oven, start on the filling. Wash the berries thoroughly and transfer them into a large pot. The raspberries, blueberries and blackberries can go in whole. Cut up the strawberries into quarters. Taste the berries to see how sweet they are, the sweeter they are, the less sugar you need to add. It all depends on your personal taste. Cook the berries on a medium-low heat, stirring occasionally. The berries will begin to break down on their own, releasing juices. Zest a lemon into the berry mixture and then cut the lemon in half, squeezing the juice in. Careful not to get any seeds into the mix!
While you want the berries in the filling to cook down, you don’t want it to all be juice. Pay attention to the filling and turn the heat off while there are still chunks of berry. This is when you add in the instant tapioca to thicken the filling. You can also use a cornstarch slurry if you don’t have tapioca, but it’s not as good. Take the filling off the heat and let sit until the crust is ready.
Pull the crust out of the oven once it gets to that light golden brown color, if it’s done before you finish the filling, no worries. Just set it aside until you need it. Once the crust and filling are both finished, pour the berry filling over the warm crust. The tapioca will make it thicker, like a half set jello. Make sure the filling is evenly spread out.
In a bowl, add the instant oatmeal (or oats and brown sugar) to the softened butter and mix well. The butter will make the oats stick together. Sprinkle the oatmeal crumble on top of the filling evenly. Put the cobbler back into the oven until the oatmeal crumble bakes to a light brown and the filling begins to bubble, about 15-20 minutes. Pull out of the oven and let cool in the counter for 10 or so minutes. Enjoy with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream and store leftovers in the refrigerator.
Recently, I signed up for an herbalist course online through Groupon. One, to get closer to nature but also to head in the direction of a more natural medicine cabinet. So many of us use chemical compositions from the pharmacy shelves to help cure common colds or a skin rash when we can just as easily turn to Mother Earth. We have been provided such a wide variety of natural cures in our own backyards, it would be a shame to let them go to waste. Of course, modern medicine has its place and there’s a reason we developed it, but there are many instances in daily life where herbalism can assist our healing and help promote a healthier lifestyle.
Many of these herbs have medicinal and spiritual purposes that are miles long, so I just listed the ones that I felt most relevant. It’s amazing all the various uses for these common kitchen herbs aside from making our dinners more delicious. It’s always important for me, personally, to have representation of the four elements in my sacred space. Herbs are a wonderful way to honor the earth.
The herbalist course was a great beginners introduction into herbal medicine. Another great source, as always, are our beloved books. The first herbalist book I picked up was medicinal, Herbal Remedies by Andrew Chevallier, and it’s a great source with easy to identify photos and references. If a plant has even a shred of medicinal uses, it’s in this book with an instruction on how and when to use them.
Spiritually, my favorite that I’ve picked up is the Green Witch by Arin Hiscock-Murphy. I stumbled upon several reviews on pagan instagram accounts and blogs, and it’s currently a favorite among the community. I loved it because it helps establish the mindset and lifestyle of a green witch beyond keeping a simple herb garden. I picked up Hiscock-Murphy’s trilogy of pagan books and they are all fantastic.
These are the six herbs that I landed on after doing my research. Not only are they the most used herbs in my kitchen, but they all have amazing medicinal purposes that I had no idea existed before embarking on this journey. I have been using white sage smudging sticks to cleanse sacred spaces or new apartments that I moved into for over a decade, but I was amazed to learn that the additional herbs that had been sitting in my space cabinet all along could enhance my craft as well. I got a bit of a late start in planting these herbs with the shelter in place orders, but since I’m working with an indoor garden, I don’t have to worry too much about the weather outside. I just have to worry about keeping my cat from eating them when they sprout.
The best thing about these six herbs, they all require similar sun light each day as well as similar watering schedules. Since I’m keeping these plants indoors and the ceramic pots I picked up were on the smaller side (four inches), I only put a few seeds in each pot. Plenty of seeds left over in case some don’t sprout or if I have to start over for any reason.
Culinary– Rosemary is one of the most versatile herbs, used primarily in pork and chicken dishes, as well as potatoes. One of my personal favorites is in bread, dipping oils, and herbal butter. Rosemary is also a great addition to soups, salads, and surprisingly desserts.
Medicinal– Rosemary essential oil is commonly used for stress relief, anxiety, aches and pains. Rosemary tea also has all the same benefits and is incredibly easy to make by steeping rosemary leaves in hot water for about ten minutes, strain and drink up.
Spiritual– Rosemary represents cleansing and purification, it can be used to make smudge sticks alone or mixes with sage. Burn a few leaves to purify your space before meditations.
Culinary– Basil is good for tomato base sauces, making pesto or eating raw in caprese, salads and pizza. If it’s Italian cuisine, basil is the perfect spice.
Medicinal– Basil naturally boosts the immune system and promotes healthy liver function. It can also relieve stress and lower cholesterol. Basil tea can help calm nerves and settle the stomach.
Spiritual– Basil symbolizes luck, peace, protection and success. Plant this in your garden to bring prosperity to your home.
Culinary– Cilantro is the perfect addition to salads, wraps, sandwiches, guacamole, salsas and most Mexican cuisine. It can also be used to elevate rice, chicken and seafood.
Medicinal– Cilantro is an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant, as well as a sleep aid.
Spiritual– Coriander is the seed of the cilantro plant and has its own spiritual uses. Coriander oil can be used to bless candles and put in a satchel above your bed for a peaceful sleep.
Culinary– Parsley is a rich, versatile herb that can transform salads, soups, sauces and Mediterranean dishes. I put parsley in the majority of dishes I make. Used fresh or dried, it’s the perfect elevation of flavor. Parsley can also be used in dipping oils and herbal butter.
Medicinal– Parsley reduces inflammation and assists in cleansing the liver. It can also be used to strengthen the immune system, aid digestion, and is rich in Vitamin K and C.
Spiritual– Parsley is considered the herb of the dead, used in ancient cultures to honor those who have passed on.
Culinary– Sage marries well with pork, poultry, sausage, and seafood. I also put a bit of sage in homemade alfredo sauce, which surprisingly is the perfect addition.
Medicinal– Sage helps when dealing with digestive problems. It can also assist to relieve stress, lower cholesterol levels, reduce hot flashes and night sweats. Sage can be used as an essential oil or drank as a tea made from sage leaves using the same method as making rosemary tea.
Spiritual– Sage represents purification and protection. White sage smudge sticks can be used to cleanse a meditation area or your entire house, just make sure to open up a window or five depending on the size space you’re working with. Other herbs and flowers can be tied into a smudge stick to assist in cleansing negative energy.
Culinary– Oregano pairs well with chicken, beef, and pork. It’s another herb that is made for Italian cuisine, especially pasta and pizza. Bread, dipping oils, and herbal butter.
Medicinal- Oregano is great for promoting respiratory and immune system health. Oregano is also rich in vitamin K, iron, magnesium, and a great source of fiber and antioxidants. It helps reduce inflammation and ease minor aches and pains.
Spiritual– Oregano can assist to calm nerves and grant clarity and courage. Oregano can be added to charms and meditation to invoke joy and promote letting go of old habits or lovers. It’s also a great addition to a herbal protection sachet or an herb infused bath.
Hello and welcome to the Mystic Quill! In this very first post I wanted to explain my intentions and where I am at the beginning of this journey. My why and my how. Why did I decide to start a blog focused around my spiritual voyage as a pagan and how I walk my own unique path.
The main thing that attracted me to witchcraft was the freedom. The ideology that there is no set of rules, no idea that you have to practice a certain way to be a witch. It’s all in your intention. Good or bad intentions is what makes the person rather than how you fit into a cookie cutter mold. The very idea that the magic comes from you. Not the herbs you use or the crystals you have, whether you have certain items placed on your altar just right. And while all those things definitely have their own vibrations and their own meanings, the true power comes from the user. Magic is in our hearts and our souls, our energies. Witchcraft, to me, is about being able to tap into and being sensitive to the energies that flow through all living things. The same energy that flows through you and I is the wavelengths that connect the animals, trees, and the stars in the night sky. The moon that gives us the tides illuminates our path amidst the darkness.
It’s really a beautiful thing when you think about it. That we are all connected to each other and the world we live in. That mindset really makes you appreciate the earth we live on and all the beings we share it with. It makes you protective over it, wanting to do everything you can to help preserve our home. Once you feel that shared vibration, you can never look at a blade of grass or a small squirrel the same again. That is the calling that I felt to the craft and that is why I have stayed so long. The forest is my church, the animals are my congregation, and the moon is my communion.
I was raised Catholic, just like many generations in my family before me, and I had a great childhood. But once I became a teenager, a lot of the things I was being taught felt off to me. I didn’t feel it in my heart. Now, don’t get me wrong, many people live their lives perfectly content in Christianity and I’m truly happy for them. My path is different than theirs, one isn’t better than the other, they just aren’t the same. Life is all about doing what is best for you, what you feel is right for you in your own heart. That is what led me here and that is what brought me to starting this blog.
Earlier this month I posted a meme on Insta, this one here:
I was expecting anything but the responses I got from women on my personal page. Everything from hearts to clapping hands emojis. Various messages of support and how they felt the same way. It was really uplifting and made me realize this topic is something that interests more people than I first believed. I brought up starting a blog to document my own journey with witchcraft and everything that I still have left to learn and the ones I did speak to were supportive and enthused. So I figured, “Damn, if they are here for it then so am I.”
As a writer, I wanted to create a space where I could express myself in my beliefs and document my trek but also somewhere that I could publish my thoughts. And although I typically write novels and I do have some projects that I am in the process of self publishing, I wanted to combine my passions. Writing, witchcraft, and self care. Or as I will be referring to them in each post: mind, spirit, and body.
So here we are. While there is quite a bit that I have already learned (which I will cover in future posts in an organized fashion, I hope) there is still so much that I want to explore and open myself up to. Life is a voyage, all about navigating rough seas and taking the time we have in calm waters to be thankful for what we have. I’m excited to be able to share this portion of my story and hopefully hear about yours too.
Milky Way Galaxy photo by Miriam Espacio on Pexel.