"The flow of creativity feels like an avalanche of joy and wonder. Being open to that possibility creates connections with everything." - Feline Dreamers

Friday, December 31, 2010

Starcat's Ten Best Books of 2010

As promised on the latest episode of the PawedCats Podcast, here is my list of the ten best books I read in 2010. These are my favorites out of the 57 books I read this year. Please note, these aren't necessarily books that came out in 2010, just my favorites of the ones I read. They are listed in the order I read them.

The 21-Day Consciousness Cleanse: A Breakthrough Program for Connecting With Your Soul’s Deepest Purpose by Debbie Ford

The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

The Self-Aware Universe: How Consciousness Creates the Material World by Amit Goswami with Richard E. Reed and Maggie Goswami

Schooled by Gordon Korman

Conscious Dreaming: A Spiritual Path for Everyday Life by Robert Moss

Julie and Julia: My Year of Cooking Dangerously by Julie Powell

Infinite Possibilities: The Art of Living Your Dreams by Mike Dooley

The Faery Reel: Tales from the Twilight Realm, edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling

Woman Who Glows in the Dark: A Curandera Reveals Traditional Aztec Secrets of Physical and Spiritual Health by Elena Avila with Joy Parker

Adventures Beyond the Body: How to Experience Out-of-Body Travel by William Buhlman

Thursday, December 30, 2010

More Cake of the Month (Seconds, Anyone?)

I decided to go ahead with the Cake of the Month project. ElvenTiger gets the first cake, since her birthday is in January. She wants some kind of layer cake with chocolate and caramel. So I'm on the hunt for good recipes.

BlackLion thought I meant that I'd be creating recipes for the cakes myself, which is certainly an option. I love taking a few different recipes and altering them to make my own unique creation. And then, of course, I could publish my versions.

Today at the Christmas Tree Shop, I saw a bunch of really cool-looking cake stands at reasonable prices. I was shopping for gifts today, but at some point I may go back and get one or two, just for this project. After all, I want the cakes to look pretty when I share photos of them!

Within the next few days, I'll post my annual goals list for 2010. I'm also doing Christine Kane's Word of the Year this time, so my goals will be centered around the central theme of the word I've chosen. I won't tell you my word now (suspense!) because I want to share it when I post the goals.

If anyone has suggestions for types of cakes, leave a comment. And yes, of course I'll share the yummy results!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Our Happy Holidaze

We had a fun and very merry holiday time here at the homestead! Well, we’re still having it, really. Tomorrow we have my sister-in-law coming for an overnight visit, Wednesday is my Mom’s re-birthday, and then Friday is the huge homeschool group New Year bash.

But back on topic...we started our partying with our monthly potluck, this time transformed into a holiday potluck! The theme was "comfort food," and we had four kinds of soup, mac & cheese, bread, lots of appetizers (including a pizza dip, since my brother’s favorite comfort food is pizza), and of course, sweet treats for dessert. Which I didn’t have, since that was prior to Solstice. We had a really fun time and lots of laughs, as usual with this crew.

Then we held our 10th annual Winter Solstice Celebration! Actually, we’ve had more than ten, because we used to have them pre-kids, too, but this is the tenth one at this home. It was a sparkly fun time! We started the bonfire at sunset, and held the ritual at 6pm. We had 30 people this year, 26 of whom were there with us in sacred space, which was a delight. I loved the ritual (if I do say so myself, heh heh). It was so reverent, yet flowed smoothly and naturally. We feasted and exchanged homemade goodies and made paper snowflakes and played the Werewolf game and enjoyed the fire and played cards. And ate some more - there were so many goodies to share! And everyone was smiling and joyful and relaxed. I thought it was one of the best Solstice gatherings in recent memory.

And then most of the adults left, and the merriment continued! We had nine kids, ages 10 to 16, staying over. Not sleeping over, mind you, though two of them caught a few winks toward morning. No, this is the night we hold vigil with the Sun, staying up all night to see him reborn at dawn. I must say, for the longest night, it wasn’t all that dark – a lovely full Moon kept us company! We played a spontaneous live-action role-playing game, vampires versus werewolves. There was X-Box playing and video watching and dice-rolling preparation for the pre-planned D&D game, which started at 3am. I made more food and cleaned the kitchen while they played D&D, then had some quiet time by myself at the fire. I was joined by a few of the girls, and we had a lovely chat. At dawn, we closed the circle and everyone crashed. I slept right through both of the kid pickups! But no one seemed to mind. While we slept the day away, there were snow flurries that gave us our wished-for white Christmas.

On Christmas Eve we had a lovely quiet evening at Mom & Dad’s. We had soup and chowder and bread, and Christmas cupcakes. The movie this year was "The Polar Express," one of ElvenTiger’s favorites. Back home, we hung up our stockings and slept cozily.

Christmas morning was a super-fun flurry of gift opening and giggles and talking and playing games and our traditional breakfast of bagels and hot chocolate. BlackLion was here with us this year, and of course my parents, too. We were joined by several other relatives at noon, for more gift exchanges and lots of appetizers, followed by a delicious feast and my aunt’s terrific Death by Chocolate trifle. The evening was spent quietly with immediate family. We chatted and watched “White Christmas” and read holiday stories.

That brings us to yesterday, Boxing Day, when we went to BlackLion’s Mom’s home for a delightful feast and more gift exchanging. We had a wonderful evening there, and went home (not too far, luckily) in the beginnings of a winter blizzard. Today the world is really white and beautiful! We’ve been resting and writing and napping and reading and playing games. The cats are bored – it’s too windy and cold and wet outside, but they can’t really find anything to do inside. We gave them treats and catnip, and played with them with their new toy. Star loves her new coat, and looks adorable in it, too. The kids played outside, but Star didn't stay out with them for long - I guess she needs some doggie boots, too.

As for me, I’m feeling content with a job well done, and extremely blessed with a loving, fun, and generous family and community. You are all simply awesome! Thank you so much!

Haiku for A Winter Afternoon

White snow blows green pines.
Oak leaves hang on, shivering -
Wind after blizzard.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Cake of the Month

I've been on a sugar fast, from Samhain (Halloween) to Winter Solstice. By this I mean I've been abstaining from desserts, foods and drinks with refined sugars. I've also kept my use of other sugars (honey, maple syrup, etc.) low during this time. It's something I've done before, and helps me contain my natural inclination to perhaps overindulge in sugary treats this time of year.

Usually when I do this, I crave sugar for the first 3 or 4 days, then I'm fine. That was the case this time too. Until last week. Then I had a series of dreams that were about cake, or included cake as part of the dream. Apparently cake is the dessert I'm missing most. I'm a cake snob, too - it has to be homemade.

From the dreams, I came up with an idea to make a collage of a cake on a lovely cake stand. The entire collage will be made of pieces of cake photos from various magazines (I've already collected quite a few, because I'm looking through magazines anyway, making collage cards for my family).

Today I had an idea for one of my goals for next year: I'm going to make a new cake each month. A Cake of the Month club, although instead of receiving cakes, I'll be the one making them. What do you think? I don't have to eat it all by myself. I could invite you over for fancy tea parties. I could bring a cake to Red Temple gatherings. Mmmmm, cake... Then ElvenTiger had to remind me that I wouldn't want to be making the cakes next autumn when I'm doing the sugar fast thing. Huh. Spoil sport. Heh heh heh.

Just one week left, and then...let me eat cake!

Monday, December 13, 2010

A Birthday Tribute

Today would have been the birthday of my great-aunt, Bertha Letitia Smith, known by the family at Auntie Bee or Bee-Bee. She was born in 1902, and was one of the middle children of a family of sixteen kids. She was my maternal grandfather's older sister.

In some ways, I'm like her. Auntie Bee made some unconventional choices in her life, but never pushed her opinions on others or expected their approval. She was quiet, with a lively sparkle in her eyes. She didn't mind spending time alone. She loved cats, books, cooking, and word puzzles. Auntie Bee, like me, kept a journal for most of her life.

Auntie Bee and Quester got along great. She got to meet Dryst, but she passed away shortly before ElvenTiger was born, and never knew BlackLion. She was "old" to me the entire time I knew her, one of the respected elders of our family. When I was a child, I was eager to please others and to conform, and it seemed to me that Auntie Bee was more fond of my brother. She slipped him a dollar bill almost every time we saw her, and was amused by his unique personality and funny antics.

It was as an adult that I recognized our similarity, as I forged my own path, living a non-traditional life in many ways. I can see why she was more amused by and fond of those who showed an independent streak. When she was my age, society was more restrictive, but she didn't let that slow her down. I'm inspired by her example of quiet self-sufficiency. Auntie Bee was a strong and powerful woman. I'm so thankful that I knew her. Happy Birthday!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Life Purpose Rampage

In Abraham-Hicks workshops, they take questions from people in the audience and give advice on the person's situation. Their answers are sometimes given in the form of "rampages," which are a form of positive rant, given from the perspective of the querent and intended to help lift the energies of the situation. Here is a rampage I wrote for myself. I'm sharing it because I thought you might resonate with it, and perhaps be inspired to write one for yourself. The underlying question being addressed is that of my life's purpose and how best to fulfill it.

It feels good to put my intentions out there and see them unfold. I’m hoping to be as free and open as possible to the fulfillment of my requests for prosperity. It is there, and I am here, and we flow together to meet, effortlessly and naturally. The Universe knows all about taking care of the “how it happens” part, which is often where my ego-self has gotten stuck. I think part of it is sheer curiosity – “well, how, then?” – but of course there is the letting-go part, where I let go of my old needs to be in charge of everything. I am a recovering control-freak, a recovering perfectionist. Instead, I am now an artist! I create playfully. I flow with the energies of my Source, the tides of my life. My dreams light my way.

What am I a natural at? The written word, both the writing and the reading of it. I am open to inspiration. I receive it and I transform it and present it in known and unknown ways of perceiving what unfolds in time and space. I am a being of the light. I fly forth to explore the consensual reality. I retreat to my own private dreaming, and then am reborn once again, to share what I have found. I walk the paths between the worlds. I am a witch, and my powers are to observe, to describe, and to transform. All that I see and experience are a part of me. I choose, in full awareness, this life of the imagination. I am not bound to the rules of logic or safety. My flights of fancy are essential to the world’s unfolding.

Only as I allow myself to acknowledge my power as a creator will I come awake. As I awaken, I throw off the bonds of fear and pain. I can clearly see the love that I came forth to express. I see my unique self, too large for labels and boxes. There is no need to fight against those who would enslave me. I am the one who has put myself into these too-small containers, trying to fit in and get along and succeed according to a long-outmoded definition. My power is within me. There is no failure. There is no death. I am an eternal being. I awaken, arise, and bring forth my most cherished dreams! I share my beauty with the world, and see it reflected back to me, honored, cherished, and upheld, forever! I am fully supported as I share myself and my art with the world!

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Paper Arts & Crafts

I really love making things, particularly with paper. Actually, if I try my hand at crafts with any kind of thread or yarn, it's hopeless. The wonderful talents my grandmother, mom, and aunt have with sewing, knitting, quilting, and so forth seemed to have skipped me and gone directly to ElvenTiger. I think it might be because I'm part feline - I just get tangled up trying to play with the nifty strings! But that's okay. I've found my niche.

Each year I make collage cards for close family members. Here's a post I wrote last year about how I do it (with pictures). I've also begun to dabble in the more traditional type of collage-making. I've been making holiday cards with Mom this season, stamping and embossing and gluing. And although I haven't done much scrapbooking yet, every time I find myself in a craft store, I'm drawn to that section like a magnet. I love to cut paper snowflakes. Another type of paper craft I'd like to explore is origami; ElvenTiger has a kit that a friend gave her, and we're going to sit down and check it out some snowy evening.

I think one of my goals for the coming year will be about paper arts & crafts. I enjoy sharing my art, yet scrapbooking is rather personal, with pictures of one's own kids and pets and vacations. So I had a thought about making more elaborate collage pieces, sort of in a scrapbook style, but intended for display. And of course, making scrapbooks as gifts for family members. That might just be next year's holiday project...

Wednesday, December 01, 2010


The Temperance card in Tarot is about moderation and finding the balance as you travel along your life's path. It describes the merging of two opposites, such as the material and spiritual realms, into a unified whole. The figure on the card, often an angel or other guide, stands with one foot in each world, and shows us how to achieve harmony between them.

The card reminds me of the work I've been doing recently. After a very busy September and October, I purposefully set aside the time between Samhain (Halloween) and Winter Solstice as a time of introspection and contemplation. It's been going wonderfully well. I've been able to balance work with rest, socializing with solitude, and family time with work on individual projects.

The most positive work I've been doing is the expansion of my daily spiritual practices. I've added a three-page daily journal writing practice each morning, which has been helpful with my other writing work, as well as my ability to stay more centered and focused. I've also integrated some exercises from the Iron Pentacle workshop I took in early November with some techniques I've been studying in Seth and Abraham books.

All in all, I feel empowered. I'm don't feel like I'm missing out on anything by cutting back on social events, because I'm choosing carefully the ones that I really want to attend. I'm conscious of making sure the kids are getting what they need in terms of time with their friends, and helping them with their projects and pursuits. Family life is going well, and my work is progressing as planned. I think I'm onto something with this moderation thing! And I've also got plans in mind for an e-book about starting and maintaining a daily spiritual practice, so stay tuned if that intrigues you.