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Doing Scary Things

100 Days, Cinnamon Rolls, Water Kefir, and BBQ Rib Soup

My Guides are Assholes. They make me do things that are really scary.

Like a Live video every single day on Facebook for the rest of the year.

It started today, and I was so nervous about it, I almost didn’t do it.

But I did it anyway.

And I’ll do it again tomorrow.

Eventually, I’ll get a rhythm where I’ll share the recipes here on the blog, but right now, I’m tired, and doing a video was a big deal, so enjoy!

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Probiotic Mimosas and Other Happy Accidents

Today was the day. On Saturday, I’d strained the water kefir from the water kefir grains into two pint jars. To one, I added some dried cherries and orange juice. To the other, I added some fresh-squeezed lemon and lime juices. I capped them and let them sit on the counter for two days, until this morning, when I opened them to taste them.

The lemon-lime tasted like a too tart lemonade. Not bad, needs more sweetness, and I really want them to carbonate more than they did, so I’m going to experiment more with that.

The orange-cherry, on the other hand, turned alcoholic.

I accidentally made probiotic mimosas.

Not that this is entirely unexpected. Kefir is a SCOBY – a Symbiotic Community of Bacteria and Yeast – and yeast is what turns fruit into alcohol.

I just didn’t think it would turn it into that much alcohol that fast.

I also started some cherry tomatoes fermenting and totally fucked those up.

Okay, well, not totally. They’re still edible, but they’re not fermented.

I made a super basic oops – I poured just-boiled water into the jars over the tomatoes, essentially cooking them and killing all the lactobacillus that would have done the fermenting.

I know better. It’s those beneficial bacteria we’re going for when we’re fermenting foods, and boiling water kills all of it.

Oops!

Now, I could get upset, toss the tomatoes, and never ferment again. But I went into this with an attitude of experimentation.

Failures aren’t failures, they’re learning experiences.

I’ll be draining those cherry tomatoes, tossing them in a blender, and making sauce for spaghetti for tonight’s dinner. I’m going to make a loaf of French bread and use it for garlic toast while I’m at it.

And the next time I ferment anything, I’ll remember to let that boiled water cool down before pouring it over the foods to be fermented.

The sauerkraut is coming along nicely though, so at least I seem not to have fucked that up. If I did, then that will go into the compost pile, which will LOVE the active bacterial culture in there.

Living life as an experiment is a powerful way to free ourselves from expectations.

When you approach everything as a theory being tested, it allows you to detach yourself from outcomes.

Expectations are one of the pillars of my Bitchslap work, and are in fact where the Bitchslap tends to occur the most.

The pillars are Desire, Need, and Expectation. All of these intersect and inform our experiences and the ways we respond to those experiences.

One of the more popular spiritual teachings under Capitalism is the Law of Attraction, which focuses almost exclusively on the Desire part of that equation, which ignores oppression, privilege, and conditioning in favor of hope and wishes. It works for some people – mostly those already in positions of privilege whose needs are met and whose experiences have conditioned them to expect to get what they want all the time. In other words, Law of Attraction works on privilege and entitlement, not on some sort of mystical, magical Universe energy that gives you all that you desire if you just vibe high enough.

If our core needs – food, water, safety, security – aren’t being consistently met, there is no amount of high-vibing that’s going to suddenly manifest us riches.

And if we expect failure, we’re probably going to get failure. Not through magic or funky energy, but through self-sabotage and giving up.

Of course, if we expect success where success isn’t possible, the failure becomes even more acute, shifting our expectations around future success, and if continued, becoming that sort of self-sabotage and giving up just mentioned.

But if we release expectations around outcomes, creating hypothesis about what might happen but being willing to experience whatever happens, it shifts things in ways that truly are magical.

We don’t get the unexpected because we have no expectations. What we get instead is surprises and learning experiences.

Like mushy but still yummy cherry tomatoes to turn into a pasta sauce and probiotic mimosas.

I could have been disappointed in those. But what good would that do other than to make me miserable?

Fuck that noise.

I want joy.

Even if I have to play some minor head games with myself to get it.

And it turns out those minor head games really are magical.

My life is living proof.

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Culturing Kefir: Day One

Last week, I started a deep dive into studying about the gut biome and probiotics. I’d long known the value of keeping yogurt in my diet – I have IBS and as long as I eat yogurt several times a week, the flares are less frequent and less severe – but the research shows that our gut biome has influence on way more than just our gut.

The gut has more than 100 million nerve cells, effectively functioning as a “second brain.”

Not only that, the microorganisms that make up the gut biome aid in digesting food, making nutrients more available for the body to use, as well as produce hormones and neurotransmitters that regulate body and brain functioning.

Who you are, your mood, and even your personality, seem to be fundamentally affected by the 2-6 pounds of microorganisms that inhabit your body. We are not just one being – we are a symbiosis of millions of beings.

After spending hours reading articles, scientific journals, and blog posts about the gut biome and probiotics, food fermentation, and the many ways fermented foods have held status in the diets of virtually every world culture, I came across kefir, a European cultured milk, originating in North Ossetia, a region in the Caucasus Mountains.

The origins of kefir aren’t mysterious, but they are intriguing. Called “the grains of the Prophet,” they were said to have been given to the Orthodox peoples of Ossetia by the Prophet Mohammed and they were closely guarded by the families who held them. There were religious prohibitions against giving the grains to outsiders, and those prohibitions held firm for centuries, until Russian doctors wanted to be able to mass produce kefir after studying its beneficial effects in treating tuberculosis and intestinal disorders.

There’s a whole story about spies and princes and how a prince was forced by the Tsar to give ten pounds of kefir grains to a woman who was kidnapped by his enemies, and that’s how Russia was able to start producing kefir commercial in the early 1900s, and I absolutely recommend you do some Googling to see the fascinating history of this weird little colony of microbes.

All modern kefir is a descendent of that ten pounds of kefir grains that were forced from an Ossetian Prince after centuries of the grains being religiously protected.

There’s a whole lot to contemplate there, if you’re willing to sit with it.

Currently, I have a jar of milk sitting in my cupboard with about 1/2 cup worth of kefir grains in it.

They came in the mail yesterday, and I started a pint of milk with them yesterday, but as expected – I did a lot of research – they are a little bit slow culturing because of the shock of transportation and being introduced to a new environment.

They did start to culture the milk – there’s a distinct sour-yeasty smell to the milk, not spoiled, but cultured. However, they aren’t thickening it up the way a fully active colony will do, so I changed their milk today, gave them a fresh pint, and gave the culture from yesterday to the cats who loved the pre-digested goodness.

And that’s part of what culturing does – it pre-digests foods that can be hard to digest. I’m lucky – I have the gene that allows adult digestion of lactose. I can drink all the milk I want, eat all the cheese I want, and never have any issues with upset tummy from it. My husband on the other hand? Half a glass of milk and his guts are gurgling. Cultured milks, however, he has no problem with.

Kefir is different from yogurt, both in how it’s produced, and the final output, but they are similar as both the yogurt microbes and the kefir microbes digest the lactose and produce acids that change the taste of the milk, curdle it, and preserve it.

It was both the difference in making it – kefir is easier and takes less steps than yogurt, and less equipment – as well as the extra microbes – yogurt is cultured with bacterial colonies that you can’t see, kefir is cultured with colonies of yeast and bacteria that create structures you can actually see and hold – that turned me onto kefir.

With yogurt, I have to heat the milk to 175 degrees, cool the milk to 110 degrees, add the yogurt culture, and keep it warm between 100-110 degrees for 24 hours.

With kefir, I fill a mason jar with milk, add the grains, put a lid on it, stick it in the cupboard for a day or two, strain the grains out, put them in new milk, and use the kefir for whatever I want to use it for – and recipes abound because once you start a kefir culture, you’re going to keep having new kefir every day or so since you have to keep the culture active or it will die.

Getting yogurt culture is, admittedly, easier than getting kefir grains was, but not by much. To get yogurt cultures, I just buy a container of plain organic yogurt with active live cultures. Use a tablespoon or two of that in the heated and cooled milk and you’re good to go. You only have to buy one container of yogurt, and then just reserve some from every batch for the next batch. You can keep it in the fridge until the next time you want to make yogurt and the cultures will stay active.

For the kefir grains, I had to order them online. I got my from Poseymom.com, they came in less than a week, and so far, so good. I let a jar of milk with a lid sit out for a couple of hours to come to room temperature, but that’s actually an unnecessary step. You can put the kefir grains right into cold milk and then let it set on the counter and the culture will work just fine, which is what I did today when I changed the milk.

Kefir is a living colony of beneficial bacteria and yeasts that when consumed helps to repopulate the gut biome with the sorts of beneficial microbes that support immune function, neurotransmitter production, and digestion.

Because it’s a living colony, it has to be cared for, fed daily, in order to continue living. When you start working with kefir, you’re taking millions of tiny beings into your care and building a symbiotic relationship with them.

Get mystical about it.

There is something absolutely breathtaking to me about caring for these microscopic creatures who will then become a part of me, joining my gut biome, and caring for me.

This mutual care isn’t often extended to the tiniest of creatures – it’s often reserved for fellow humans, and more and more, not even then.

We find ourselves in the midst of an ongoing humanitarian crisis with the President of the United States presiding over active genocide.

If we can’t even care for the least among us – the microbes that join our bodies to care for us – then is it any wonder we struggle to care for those whose lives we only see through the media?

We humans have become so disconnected from the world that sustains us, and all the ways She does that, and I suspect that disconnect is closely tied to non-animist spiritual practices. When we de-souled the world around us, declaring only humans – and then later, begrudgingly, higher order animals, had souls, we stopped seeing the deep interconnection that we have with the world. And not just interconnection, but interdependence.

These weird little bugs, contained in polysaccharide grains, are now dependent on me to provide them food in the form of milk every day. And in exchange for providing them food, they provide me food – pre-digested, nutrient enriched, cultured milk. And many of them will literally join my body, colonizing my gut, and producing serotonin, vitamins, and enzymes to aid not just in my digestion, but my whole body and brain functioning.

They’re special, and they need to be treated as such.

The Ossetians knew that when they protected them with religious laws.

We need to remember that, not just with my kefir grains, but with everything in this world. It’s all connected, and when we defile one part of the web, we defile the whole.

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A Vision of a Goddess

It starts with a Vision that I had several years ago:

A goddess is on her knees, her wrists in shackles that are connected to the walls at the head of a marble room with floor to ceiling windows along the opposite end of the room. Filling the room are just a few powerful men, laughing and reveling as the goddess shrinks, her power beginning to drain from her after so many years of bondage.

As these men laugh and party, they don’t realize that this goddess, who they claim to have chained for her protection, but really, they chained because they wanted to make sure they always had her, is now fading away, and that soon, all her power will leave their temple completely.

They believe that their shackles and chains and their temple of marble and glass will hold this goddess, this great power, this spirit that nourishes the world.

I look closer at the shackles and chains, and I see that they are words, letters, numbers, symbols. In spots, it looks like a stock market ticker! Which tells me what these chains really are, and who these men really are, which I knew when I saw the goddess, because I know the goddess. Well.

It’s Juno Moneta, literally the goddess from which we derived the word “money.” She is wife of Jupiter, and she was the patroness of the treasury of Rome, shackled by men of power throughout history for fear that if she roamed free, that they wouldn’t have what they wanted.

And what they don’t understand is that the Divine Feminine must be free. She must never be shackled, there must be no restriction on Her. And so for centuries, this shackled goddess has been held by a few, with only trickles of her power reaching others.

And I see this in the tears and wounds in her flesh. They’ve been cutting her, giving out slivers of her power, just enough to keep the people from demanding she be freed. For so long, they’ve been able to hold her, telling the people, “We must do this to protect her. The world is a scary place.” And for so long, the people agreed.

But the Goddess knows the time is coming where she will break free, and all will experience her joyful abundance. But first, she will tear down the temples of marble and glass, and the rumbles are going to be a bit rough. And looking closely, I see that it’s already begin. Those rumbles. Because as those men of power party and revel in their temple of marble and glass, they haven’t been paying attention to what’s going on right under their noses. They’ve started to feel the rumbles, and in their panic, they’ve completely ignored the Goddess they’ve chained.

Money is a Goddess, and she’s getting pissed.

That vision rocked my world and started to shift my perspectives on things in many ways. I’d been sucked deep into six-figure coaching world. Not that I ever made anywhere near six-figures, but I was sure that if I just figured out the secret to it, I would absolutely manage to reach that goal.

Of course, the “secret” was pre-existing privilege rooted in white supremacist patriarchal capitalism.

2015-2016 rocked my worldview, and not just because of the shitstorm 2016 election. A whole fuckton of shit happened for me spirituality that radically altered me.

During those years, I had a few clients who were the kind of women who actually did make six-figures.

I got the behind-the-scenes of quite a few of them.

The ones that weren’t living off trust funds or CEO husbands were so deeply in debt that they were living payment to payment.

It takes a LOT of money to make a lot of money, and the flow of money is controlled by the systems of oppression that started to develop thousands of years ago with the advent of patriarchy.

That’s what the Vision of Juno Moneta was telling me.

That no matter how hard I tried, no matter what I did, no matter how much magic I used, the only way I’d gain access to that kind of money was to sell my soul to the patriarchal powers-that-be.

The Goddess was chained, Her resources being doled out at the whims of a few powerful men. And to access those resources, one had to conform.

Or help set the Goddess free.

All the Goddesses whose images and stories had been co-opted in service to the Patriarchal God and His worldly institutions.

~

At first, it seemed totally nuts.

It was just my imagination, right?

Of course, now, we’ve had more and more light shining on the ways that just a few people are pulling the strings and controlling the economy of the world.

Revolution is threatening. We’re probably still a few years off from a full-blown revolution, but it’s coming.

And in the meantime, we can work to free the Goddesses, so that we can seek Guidance and Support from Them.

~
What Juno Moneta taught me – IS teaching me – is that money isn’t the problem. The hoarding of money and resources is the problem.

Believing that money, or anything at all, belongs to us is the problem.

This led to a deepening of my animist beliefs.

Nothing belongs to me because everything belongs to itself because everything has its own soul, is its own, unique being.

Even Money. She’s a Goddess after all.

~

This takes a radical shift in perspective. It’s hard. I still struggle with it. The “ownership” mentality is deeply conditioned in us.

~

So how do you free Goddesses?

By reading their stories. By tracing the ways that Patriarchy painted one picture of Them, and seeing how maybe, there’s more to Them than Patriarchy would have us believe.

By creating devotional practices to Goddesses that you resonate with. – this is my task, to teach you how to do that. Devotion is attention and a willing transfer of power. What are you devoted to know? What is your power going to now?

By taking action on the guidance of the Goddesses who come to you. Discernment is key here. Knowing your biases and seeing the White Supremacist Patriarchal Capitalist influences on your mind and choices.

By using your Voice.

~

Your homework today is to start a shrine.

This can be as simple or elaborate as you like. If there is more than one Goddess calling you, you can have more than one shrine. You can create shrines to ideas, to stories, to projects, too.

A basic shrine might be a candle and an incense burner. Every time you light a candle and incense, you call to mind the subject of the shrine. That’s a devotional practice.

Getting more elaborate, you might add objects that are related to or sacred to the subject of the shrine.

Juno Moneta was the goddess of the treasury, and protectress of funds. Roman coins were made in Her temple and were originally stamped with her image. Adding coins and bills to Her shrine might be appropriate.

Contemplative reflection: What does it mean that our money no longer holds the image of Her, but instead, the images of the men who founded White American Patriarchy? How might She feel about that? Allow Her pain to become Your pain, and then allow it to motivate you.

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Prepare Your Breakfast Before You Go To Bed

I am an autistic woman with ADHD. Part of that is a hyperactive hummingbird brain that is super creative, great at pattern recognition, and excellent at solving seemingly complicated problems. But a another part of that is that I’m highly distractible, have executive functioning issues, and frequently forget “basic” things like when to eat.

The easier it is for me to eat, the more likely I am to actually do it before I’m so hungry that I don’t have the energy to do anything more than shove a bagel in my face.

I do tend to have more energy and focus in the evenings. So I take advantage of that by making my breakfast in the evening, before I go to bed, so that it’s easy to just grab it and eat it in the morning.

The goal is to make things both easy and nutritious. But also, it has to be something that I’ll eat. I’m not terribly picky, but I do have preferences. And if it takes a bunch of extra steps in the morning, I’m probably not going to do it, so jars that have to be cooked in the morning are pretty much a no-go for me. I don’t have a microwave, so quick reheats aren’t really a thing in my homestead.

My go to, which makes room for LOTS of variety, is chia pudding jars. These are quick, easy to make, yummy, and super nutritious. Basically, they meet all my goals.

I use pint ball jars with plastic lids. They’re the perfect size, and fairly easy cleanup, especially since I have a dishwasher.

In the jar goes yogurt, milk, sweetener, chia seeds, and whatever other additions I feel like making. Sometimes I’ll add a splash of vanilla. Most of the time, I also add a handful or so of frozen berries; by morning, they’re thawed and ready to eat. I’ve also used dried berries, which are great as well. They rehydrate overnight sitting in the jar.

Photo by Milada Vigerova on Unsplash

Chia Pudding Breakfast In a Jar

Course Breakfast

Equipment

  • Pint Mason Jar

Ingredients
  

  • ½ cup yogurt
  • ½ cup milk
  • 2 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tbsp sugar

Instructions
 

  • Pour yogurt, milk, sugar, and vanilla in jar.
  • Add chia seeds.
  • Cap and shake to mix.
  • Add frozen fruit.
  • Cap and put in fridge overnight.
  • In the morning, shake it up and enjoy.

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Cheap and Easy One-pan Elbow “Lasagna”

I needed to make something for dinner last night. Money is tight. I’d say right now, but honestly, money is always tight. There’s this thing with my money flow that I always have just enough, just in time, but the definitions of “enough” and “in time” are the definitions of my Goddesses, Ancestors, and Guides, and I’m not always comfortable with their ideas for what those mean. I’m not homeless, I don’t worry about immediate starvation, but I sure would like to have some more padding in the bank account than I do.

I had to work with whatever was in my kitchen. No ordering out, no Instacart, not even a quick trip to the Save-a-Lot.

Luckily, I’d had some big blessings through the previous couple of weeks, and the cupboards and fridge are relatively well-stocked.

I’m only cooking for two of us: My husband and I live by ourselves with our (currently) 17 cats – a mixture of fosters and permanent residents. Cooking for two, of course, adds additional challenges, since a lot of recipes and foods are packaged for families of 4 or more. That’s not an insurmountable challenge though – leftovers are GREAT for those days you don’t have the energy or desire to cook anything.

One of the blessings was coming across a bunch of marked down pork sausage rolls last week at Save-a-Lot. They were about to expire in the next day or two, but were marked down from something like $3.99/lb to 99 cents. Almost expired meat is good to toss in the freezer, but you have to be ready to use it as soon as you thaw it. Don’t pull it out of the freezer and into the fridge and forget about it for a few days.

Jars of spaghetti sauce are part of my staples – I always keep several stocked, and buy more when I find them on sale. I’m not fussy about brand, unless I notice a brand tastes horrible, then I’ll never get it again. Mostly I stick to the same stores and get their generics, or name brands if I catch a killer sale.

Pasta is another of my staples. Noodles of all sorts. Spaghetti, elbow noodles, bowtie noodles, etc. Again, stock up when they’re cheap regardless of brand/type. I know how to make my own noodles, but that’s a pain in the ass and I’d rather spend my time on other things like plotting to smash the patriarchy on Facebook and weaving magic through my life.

Not that making noodles can’t be magical – it can be VERY magical. It’s just not my favorite thing to do, and I try to avoid things that aren’t my favorite as much as possible. Luckily, I have a lot of favorite things to fill my days with. Like the aforementioned patriarchy smashing, but also, plant-tending, devotional work, contemplative studies, and magic-making.

Cheese is another staple. I DO really like making cheese – and I’ll share some cheap and easy how tos in future posts, but I don’t really have the equipment to make as much cheese as I actually use. So I keep stocked up on a LOT of it.

Last night’s dinner pretty much threw all of that together into a pan on top of the stove, similar to a goulash, but with a different flavor profile and a fuckton of cheese.

Cheap and Easy One-pan Elbow “Lasagna”

Course Main Course
Cuisine Indian

Ingredients
  

  • 1 lb elbow macaroni noodles
  • 1 lb pork sausage Mild, medium, or spicy to your preference
  • 1 jar spaghetti sauce If you make your own, great. Store bought is absolutely fine.
  • 1 c cottage cheese
  • 1 c shredded mozzarella cheese
  • ¼ c powdered parmesan cheese
  • 1 can sliced mushrooms Optional

Instructions
 

  • In a large pan (stock pot, dutch oven, or similar), bring 6 cups of water to a boil.
  • Add noodles and continue to boil for 10 minutes or until tender.
  • Drain noodles and leave in colander.
  • Add pound of pork sausage to pan, and brown over low to medium heat.
  • Drain grease from pork sausage and return to pain.
  • Add the jar of spaghetti sauce to the pork sausage in the pan. Stir.
  • Add mushrooms and cheeses.
  • Stir.
  • Bring sauce, meat, and cheese mixture to a bubble.
  • Add noodles, stirring.
  • Heat on medium for five minutes.
  • Enjoy.
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Lammas, Pickled Eggs, and Preparing for the Future

It’s August 1st. Lammas to some. Lughnasadh to others. Just another day to most of the world.

It’s a seasonal holiday. We’re halfway between the summer solstice and the fall equinox. The first harvests are coming in – for some, they’ve been coming in, for others, we’re still waiting.

I’ve already harvested all my raspberries. Strawberries were done in June. I’m still waiting on my tomatoes, though. They got a late start this year, so I’m hoping they’ll make it before first frost in October. We’ll see. If necessary, I can always move the ones in pots to my grow room in the basement before frost where they’ll stay warm.

Lammas was traditionally a time of celebrating those first harvests, and finishing off the last of last years preserves.

I do not have any preserves from last year – I’m just getting started on the hands-on aspects of my homesteading journey, though I’ve been planning and studying for decades.

But I can connect to the ancestral traditions of my western and northern European lineage. Traditions that until the forced conversions to Christianity were intimately tied to the seasons – and to the survival of the village.

Today, that means baking bread and pickling eggs. The bread will be part of this evening’s meal; the eggs won’t be enjoyed for a few weeks.

And so in this way, I’m both celebrating the moment, this procession of the seasons, while also preparing for the future.

Most of us don’t need to prepare for the winter in quite the same way our ancestors did. For most of us, an empty pantry can be remedied by a trip to the store. For those of us living in poverty, like myself, that might mean scrounging up change in an emergency to buy some ramen to get by until the next pay, or even an emergency trip to a food bank, but most people living in the Western world aren’t so dependent on seasonal preparations as our ancestors were.

I think this disconnection from the seasons does us a disservice. It keeps us from preparing in advance, and in so doing disconnects us from our future selves. We don’t need to prepare for long cold seasons hunkered down with no grocery stores. We don’t need to think about what our future self might need because we have the Capitalist consumer assumption that when we need something, it will be there for us to buy at some store. Just go to Amazon and you can find damn near anything you like. With free Prime shipping even. I just got two pounds of chia seeds for $7 yesterday. They’ll last me a month or two, then I can just order another two pound container of them.

So I’m using today to reconnect to my future self. To ask Her what she needs, and to start putting a plan in place to have it ready for Her, so she’s not scrambling in the way that I have frequently scrambled in the past because of poor preparation.

Design Your Own Pickled Eggs

Gwynne
A basic recipe for pickled eggs for you to experiment with creating the perfect-for-you batch of this savory delicacy.
Course Appetizer

Equipment

  • Clean glass jar with plastic lid. (Vinegar corrodes metal lids.)

Ingredients
  

  • 12 eggs
  • 3 cups vinegar Any type of vinegar will do. Experiment to find what you like best.
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tsp salt Table salt, sea salt, pink salt. Whatever you have on hand is just fine
  • cup sugar Raw sugar, cane sugar, beet sugar, etc. Again, what you have on hand is fine.
  • various spices and seasonings Garlic, peppercorn, and pickling spice are common, but feel free to experiment with these in each batch you make. Turmeric lends a lovely flavor and color, for example.
  • beets, red cabbage, or red onions (optional) One or all of these will add color to your pickled eggs, but will also add flavor.

Instructions
 

  • Put vinegar, water, salt, and sugar in a non-aluminum saucepan. (The vinegar reacts to aluminum and isn't so great.) Add your spices. (If you're using garlic, dill, or turmeric, leave those out of the pan.)
  • Bring to a boil.
  • Reduce heat. Turn it way down. You want a gentle simmer for five minutes.
  • Remove from heat and let cool for about 15-20 minutes.
  • Stuff your eggs in a jar(s). Add garlic, dill, or turmeric if you're using them.
  • Pour your brine mixture (vinegar, water, salt, spices) to the jar and cap tightly.
  • Stick in the fridge and let sit for 2-4 weeks.
  • Will keep for about 3-4 months without pressure canning. Longer with pressure canning.
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How to Hard Boil Eggs

I have ADHD. It makes me very easily distractible. My short-term memory is pretty shit from it, too. I’ll start doing something, get distracted, and completely forget about the thing I was doing. And the distraction doesn’t even have to be something urgent or complicated.

When I was 17, living with my mother and her boyfriend, I wanted to make some hard-boiled eggs. This is not at all a difficult thing to do. Put cold eggs in a pan, cover it with water, put it on the stove, boil until the eggs are done.

Everything was going great until I laid down, forgot I was hard-boiling eggs, and woke up to explosions.

The smell of burnt, exploded eggs still haunts me, and I’m now 40.

I do, however, still love hard-boiled eggs. And have since both learned how to make them perfectly – it’s in the timing – I’ve also since decided that even though I can make perfect hard-boiled eggs on the stove, it’s much easier for me if I use an egg cooker, which does everything automatically.

My particular egg cooker is shaped like a yellow chick – a bit morbid considering it’s cooking eggs, but morbid in an adorable way. I put seven eggs in the spots that hold the eggs, add 1/4 cup of water to the base, put the lid on, plug it in, turn it on, and when it’s done, it turns itself off. Which means if I forget about the eggs, they don’t explode.

But what if you don’t have an egg cooker?

That’s where the perfect hard-boiled recipe comes in handy.

Just be sure you set the timers. Loudly.

Hard-Boiled Eggs

Gwynne
Perfect hard-boiled eggs are all about the timing.
Course Appetizer

Ingredients
  

  • cold uncracked eggs
  • cold water

Instructions
 

  • Place cold, uncracked eggs in a pan.
  • Cover eggs with cold water.
  • Place pan on stove and turn heat to medium.
  • Bring water to a full, rolling boil.
  • Boil for 2 minutes.
  • Remove from heat. Put lid on the pot. Let eggs sit in the hot water for 11 minutes.
  • Carefully drain the hot water and run eggs under cold water.
  • Peel when cool.

Some notes: Farm-fresh eggs suck for hard-boiling. If you’re gathering your own eggs or buying them fresh from a farmer, you’ll want to let them sit in the refrigerator for at least two weeks before hard-boiling them. Even then, they’re a bitch to peel.

You don’t really need to add salt, vinegar, or anything else to the water. They don’t actually make a significant difference in how the eggs turn out.

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My Love/Hate Relationship with Poverty

For years, I’ve had this love/hate relationship with poverty. In fact, over a decade ago, I ran a blog called Living on Less Than a Dime about thriving as a single mom in spite of poverty. My son is now grown, living across the country, and I am a married hermit called to a spiritual path of service to my village – in both the digital and physical realms.

I love that poverty brings out my resilience and gives me the opportunity to build that resilience even more.

Last year, I went six months without running water, and did just fine. Water became a quest, something to be sought out. I learned to appreciate it more. To understand the ways that modern running water delivered right to our faucets frees us up for other things. I developed a new and deeply spiritual relationship with water that even now that I have running water again remains.

It was exhausting and frustrating at times. How do you deal with having to shit when you can’t flush the toilet? You learn. You adapt. You figure it out. (A five-gallon bucket, a foam pool noodle, and wood shavings/dirt between poos. Toss it in the hot compost pile to become humanure. Use on trees and flowers, or veggies if you’re really adventurous and are only feeding yourself/your family.)

If you can’t figure it out – or you don’t have the support of someone in your life who can help you figure it out – you suffer, and I’m not a fan of suffering. Even when times are really tough, suffering is a choice. To be miserable about the circumstances, or to face them, head-on, using what you can and doing what you can until you can do something else.

I hated that poverty makes everything so much harder. That I couldn’t have the impact that I want to have because I couldn’t get the sort of visibility that money can buy.

But harder is not necessarily worse and not having money means I just have to get more creative about the ways that I do the things that I want to do.

Sure, it might come slower.

But slow-living is one of my Eremitic Principles. To slow down enough to be able to pay attention. When life gets moving too fast, we go on autopilot and everything becomes a blur. We lose our spiritual connection and before long we lose ourselves. Capitalism and patriarchy and white supremacy keep things moving faster and faster and faster so we can never slow down and never find who we truly are.

Slowing down allows us to savor living.

Even when that living is hard.

Especially when that living is hard.

When I find myself hating my poverty, it’s a reminder to re-evaluate. To see where things have been moving too fast. Where I need to slow down. What I need to let go.

I hated poverty because I didn’t choose it. I was born to it. I struggled against it for years, trying to escape it’s clutches.

Until I accepted it. Acceptance of what is is another of my Eremitic Principles. Acceptance doesn’t mean we don’t do anything about what is. Only that we don’t resist the existence of what is. Denying reality does not help us escape reality because we can’t escape it. We can only mold it, slowly, by molding ourselves.

Acceptance also doesn’t mean you can’t want something different. Acceptance isn’t resignation. Once we accept what is, we can change what is. Resistance just makes reality dig in even harder. Acceptance gives reality flexibility. It’s like the Universe says, “Here, I’m showing you this!” and until you accept it, the Universe is going to keep showing it to you.

Acceptance, of course, doesn’t guarantee things will change in a particular way. Only that you’re not spending your energy resisting so you can start spending your energy rearranging.

I’ve been rearranging my life deliberately for some time now. For a long time, though, I spent all my energy resisting poverty. Trying to make more money. Constantly hustling just to pay the bills. And going against my own personal flow to do so. No wonder I never got anywhere.

When money stopped being my focus, when my calling became my focus, and rearranging my life so that my calling can weave through every moment of it, money got easier. Not great, yet. But flowing in ways that it never did before, bringing ease. I’m still poor, but not as poor as I was.

I don’t hate my poverty anymore. I don’t necessarily want to be here forever, but I’m also not attached to the idea of leaving. It is what is is, what will be is what will be. I am focused on my calling, on making room for it to fully express itself, and allowing everything else to fall in place as it will.

But I’ve also got a fuckton of survival tips that will be coming as a series of blog posts over the next few weeks/months.

The Poor Witch’s Guides to Sustainable Living will share my own learned lessons about living on a below-poverty budget and THRIVING in spite of the poverty. Ways to obtain property (it’s easier than you think), how to garden to grow your own food, how to live without utilities for an extended period of time, and how to weave magic through all of your life while doing it.

Poor does not mean bad. Poor just means you have to create your life a bit differently.

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A Vision for a Hermitage

Hermitage n. the dwelling of a hermit, especially when small and remote.

Google Dictionary

Welcome to The Hermitage, my blog and home on the web. I also have a hermitage in the physical world, my home where I am creating a sanctuary for cats and plants, and of course, for myself.

I’m a hermit. By calling and by nature. I’ve always preferred solitude. Even as a child, I preferred to spend the majority of my time alone, reading books and writing stories. People were overwhelming, chaotic, and made no sense at all. Stories made sense.

Now, as an adult, people are still overwhelming, but they make more sense because I’ve spent decades studying stories life is just a bunch of loosely connected stories being played out in predictable ways on a daily basis. It only seems like chaos because most of us are limited to one view of the story – our own.

Since this is the intro post for this new blog, I suppose I’ll start with an intro of myself and then move onto my vision for my hermitage – both this digital one and the one that I live in.

I am Gwynne Michele, I’m 40, and I’m a hermit. This is not just some quaint description of my introversion – though I am very introverted. It is a calling, a path that I am walking at the direction of my Guides, my Ancestors, and my Goddesses – more about all them in later posts. I’ll also share more of my theology which is rooted in animism and experiential spiritual practice.

As a hermit, my life is dedicated to creating – and teaching others how to create – sanctuary. That manifests itself in various ways, including rescuing cats, growing plants, converting an urban home into an urban homestead, and creating various digital sanctuaries for healing and growth in the form of groups and courses.

I grow cannabis – I’ll be doing a series of posts on how to get started growing your own and the benefits of various forms of cannabis in spiritual and personal growth as well as healing. I also grow food plants – I have tomatoes growing in the bud room with the flowering cannabis plants and will be adding more food plants indoors as I go. I also have outdoor gardens – my entire front yard is a floral wonder – and in addition to edibles and florals, I grow medicinals as well. My current obsession is lemon balm – it’s great for helping me focus and minimize anxiety, which are things my raging ADHD loves to fuck with.

I am a married hermit, which might sound like a bit of a contradiction, but reality is that very few hermits are actually able to live alone, and through history, most lived in community where they could support each other’s solitary pursuits. My husband is not a hermit, but he does support my solitary pursuits and our marriage has evolved into one that works for both our needs, as different as they are.

I have a Vision for my life. It’s constantly evolving as I weave that Vision into reality. If your Vision can’t adapt to reality, it will fail. Currently, my Vision is focused on my physical homestead – I want to buy the house I live in which was taken by the county for back taxes this year. Long story short, I moved in here with a friend who’d owned the house for 30 years, and then she moved in with her dream guy and told me that I could have the house. Which meant either paying the property taxes or letting it go to foreclosure and buying it that way. Tried to pay the property taxes, it didn’t work out. I was $600 short. But it will work out better in the long run because now, when I buy it either at auction or through the Land Bank process, I’ll have a title in my name, clear of liens.

The Vision I’m holding for my homestead right now assumes that I’m able to buy the house. It doesn’t matter how I’m able to buy it. There’s too many variables to control for, so I make the assumption that it worked itself out somehow and go from there. It’s a whole lot of acting as if without attachment to process.

Or to outcome.

That’s right, I have no attachment to the outcome. Yes, my Vision assumes that I buy the house, but if I don’t, the Vision can adapt. No matter where I land, the Vision can live itself out.

My Vision is centered around sanctuary and sustainability, which can happen in any location with the right effort and practices.

I want to have food and water sustainability, a calm and peaceful place of rest, and all the materials and goodies I need to do my work of helping others create sanctuary and sustainability in their own lives – whatever that means for them.

I practice herbalism – in addition to growing medicinal herbs and cannabis, I use them, creating smokable tea blends that can be added to cannabis and smoked for additional medicinal effects. I make herbal soaps, herbal candles, and flower essences, all custom blended to meet the need of the intended recipient, whether it’s for myself or for another. Right now, I’ve got Sweet Pea and Rose of Sharon essences resting and waiting to be poured. Sweet Pea is for the restless soul who is ready to put down roots, and Rose of Sharon is for the soul with a burden of responsibility who needs to bring joy back into their life.

Stick around, I’m just getting started. On this blog, there will be how tos, contemplations, and random musings about living life as a hermit, how to brew a revolution (it starts within), and how to create a sustainable life, even when you have very little to start with.